Recently there has been so much debate and discussion around the issue of policing and public safety in this country. The calls to address police brutality from last summer have been renewed in recent weeks, and the reasons behind this illustrate the complexity of this issue. First with the groundbreaking verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial — an incident that inspired some shred of hope for increased accountability for police officers in communities across the country — but then the stark reality cast by several more fatal shootings of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.
There have been many people thinking about policing and criminal justice here in Detroit for decades, but one man’s perspective is especially crucial right now. He’s an attorney and former Detroit Police Department officer and legal adviser.
Listen: Attorney David Robinson on how to demystify police culture in Detroit and beyond.
David Robinson has worked as both an attorney and an officer in the Detroit Police Department. He is also representing the National Lawyers Guild legal observers who have filed a lawsuit over alleged abuses by officers at anti-police brutality protests last year. Robinson also wrote the 2019 book about policing titled, “You See A Hero, I See A Human Being.”
On the collective paradigm shift in the “mystique” surrounding police, Robinson says, “that mystique that was employed in the defense of those officers against Rodney King, it won over that video, unlike with George Floyd…The mystique went out with Tamir Rice and even Eric Garner.”
As far as the policing environment in Detroit, ”I’ve seen three decades and a half of this behavior of policing that I’m talking about (in Detroit) … things have not changed as far as I’m concerned,” says Robinson.