Five days after he knelt as the national anthem played during Denver’s season opener to protest law enforcement’s treatment of black people, the Broncos’ Brandon Marshall visited the Denver Police Department headquarters.
Marshall went there Tuesday morning to sit down with Denver Police Chief Robert White. The two talked for roughly 45 minutes. They discussed their pasts; both were raised by strong-willed mothers. They talked about the present; how law enforcement, locally and nationally, treats people of color.
Mostly, Marshall asked questions.
“He asked a lot of questions as it relates to policing,” White said Tuesday. “Why do police do the things that they do?”
Marshall wanted to know why officers around the country who shoot unarmed black men often keep their jobs, White said.
White, who is black, explained to him there are undeniable challenges that involve police officers and communities of color. But White said what might look illegal to many in the public is not necessarily so.
“Many are asking, ‘Why did the officer get off? Because it appeared like he or she broke the law,’” White said. “In most instances, they did not break the law. The question you’re really asking is, ‘Were those actions necessary?’”
White pointed toward the training Denver police officers undergo. The Denver Police Department, for example, has a $300,000 simulator that teaches officers when and when not to shoot. White even offered Marshall the chance to try it out down the road.
White also stressed to Marshall how important it is for police to develop relationships with the people they serve.
“Obviously we get paid to prevent crime,” White said. “But the essence of us doing that and having any real success is based on our relationship with the community.”
Their talk, as White put it, was “an opportunity … to move the ball forward.”
Marshall is expected to work with Denver police in the future. White said he planned to send Marshall a specific list of ways they could work together.
“It became pretty clear to me that he (wanted) to speak to the injustices that he feels are going on across our country,” White said. “ … But I think he also recognizes that most of the men and women in law enforcement, and certainly those in Denver, are out doing the right thing every single day. And it’s that small percentage that’s a challenge for our communities and us as a police department.
“He was a very respectful young man. I don’t think he has any great ill will against our law enforcement or our military. And I believe that he really wants to do something to get our arms around some of the challenges we’re facing.”