“I grew up in this area and raised my family in integrated neighborhoods. People are people to me. So when I was a young man, obviously I had black friends. I recall one time, specifically, we were in a pit orchestra for the Kirkwood Playmakers. At the time, I was a trombonist.
“We had dinner at my house, and we were driving to the rehearsal and we got pulled over — I won’t mention the municipality — but they got us out of the car and separated us. My black friend wasn’t treated well, and one of the officers asked me if my parents knew who I was with. I said, ‘Of course, my mother just fixed us dinner.’ I was confused by it. I was 17 years old.”
That experience, Jackson said, “influenced me throughout my career. As a young policeman, it made me made sure that I treated everyone fairly because I had a sense of this perception [that police sometimes treated black people differently]. Since I was aware of it and knew it was real, I wasn’t going to be a part of it. … As a supervisor and as a commander, I’d do everything I could to make sure that no one undermined my direction and behaved in such a manner.”
Jackson then called it “hurtful” to hear allegations that his department was racist or too aggressive. He disputed the idea that his department racially profiles drivers — and said he tells his officers “to treat everyone how you would want your mother to be treated.”
Still, after 30 years of policing, Jackson noted he recently learned about a privilege that he did know he had as a white person.
“Early on, in the week following the shooting of Michael Brown, we had a community gathering at Christ the King Church. Myself and the prosecuting attorney, the governor, the county police chief and local leaders were all in a panel to address a very large crowd.
“There I learned about mothers and fathers having to sit down with growing young black males to talk to them about how to behave when confronted by the police. It made very sad to hear that, because I didn’t have to do that with my kids. I can’t imagine having to sit down with my boys and say, ‘Because you’re white, you have to be extra careful about law enforcement.’ That’s a perception that is probably rooted in some reality for a lot of people.’