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Ann Arbor Chief Shares His Personal Story Of Police Brutality & Concerns For Officers Now On The Job

Jun 29, 2020

Ann Arbor Police Chief Michael Cox
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

Ann Arbor police chief Michael Cox brings a different perspective to the wave of excessive police force against people of color and incidents of police brutality.  He shares his personal story with WEMU's Lisa Barry and talks about his concerns for current officers who he says sometimes feel hated by the community.

"The Fence: A Police Cover-up Along Boston's Racial Divide" by Dick Lehr
Credit Amazon / amazon.com

In 1995, Chief Cox, who is Black, was beaten by white officers from his own department while working undercover for the Boston police department.  The incident is written about in a book called "The Fence," and there has been discussion about turning it into a movie.  Cox says he doesn't talk about what happened very much, because he doesn't have a victim mentality and doesn't want to be seen as one either.  He tells Lisa he worked hard educating himself and advocating for more balanced policing before eventually retiring from the Boston police department and being hired as the chief of police in Ann Arbor.

Chief Cox says some of his officers are now coming to him nearly in tears confused and hurt by the anger they are encountering by citizens while out in the community.  He says they took a vow to serve and protect and feel they are being judged by the worst police behavior in the country.

Saying "we should know better by now," the Ann Arbor police chief said, "This is a movement with so many people involved and [he’s] worried it will impact the possibility of adding younger people and new officers to the job because they won't want to do it."

Cox says once healing has begun, there definitely needs to be a conversation about police reform but feels strongly that police officers need to be part of that conversation.  He adds, "Police are being talked about...being talked over..being talked through,,,but not really being talked with, which is necessary for sustainable changes to policing.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu