SCMPD officer changes attitudes one child at a time - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

SCMPD officer changes attitudes one child at a time


In a community desperate for a solution to a violent crime problem that found its roots in young, vulnerable and hopeless youth, now, a beginning to an end.  An approach created by the very police officers who have been the target of so much animosity and blame.   

They know who needs to be touched, and they proved it at the Frank Callen Boys and Girls Clubs on the city’s eastside the moment Officer Sean Sublett walked in the gym. 

He is the product of an upbringing most of us cannot relate to, he bounced between five different foster families. He didn’t meet his mother until he was 25. Still has never met his father. But when Sublett walks in a room, he makes an impression.

That impression is on the same young people who will make a decision in a few years, either to be part of a healthy and safe Savannah, or contribute to the nightmare of our spreading violent crime wave. There is no one more important to your quality of life right now, than these kids, and Officer Sublett knows it.

“Whenever you see me you can talk to me,” Officer Sublett told these kids gathered for their afterschool session at the club.  “Whenever you see any police officer, our goal is to better our relationship with you guys so that you can actually have a conversation with us.”

There’s no talking down to these kids.  At half their age, they already have the street smarts to pick out a con in the crowd. Connecting here means starting out with something they don’t know, something that could protect them, keep them out of jail.

“Touch her shoulder,” he tells one of the boys in the crowd. Then turns to the girl the boy just touched and said, “Tell him don’t touch my shoulder no more.” She tells him. Then Sublett tells the boy to touch her shoulder again. He does.

“How many of you know that you can go to jail for that?”
They may not have known how simple it was to commit simply battery before, but most admit they already have once or twice today. 

“We must get them motivated about talking to the police department, not in a negative connotation, but we got to get them motivated about talking to the police department about whatever we can do to make them more successful.  Because at the end of the day we’re here for them,” Officer Sublett said.
There were certainly questions about the use of deadly force, about Sublett’s tenure on the force. But through it all, the only question that mattered to this officer was whether a real connection was made?  Two of the young boys in the crowd answered that question, leaving no doubt.

“It was respect and it showed care and if we were in a problem, he can help us,” said Jamari Roundtree.

“I never had a police to talk to like that,” said Steven Johns.  “And it’s good that I gave him respect and he gave me respect.”

Whether it’s one at a time or ten at a time, this is an amazing use of resources by SCMPD. These kinds of talks are now, pretty much all Officer Sean Sublett does. 

A young man from a place most of us could never understand, reaching out to a group of young people who will someday define this city’s future.

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