Would You Walk Into A Fire If Your Boss Told You Too?

When All You Want Is A Safe Work Environment

By Felina Silver Robinson

I was again reading the article published on Boston.Com entitled: Brookline police chief urges officers who reported racism in department to return to work from 1/21/16. I was thinking about Chief Daniel O’Leary’s words as he expressed his desire for both officers; Prentice Pilot and Estifanos Zerai-Misgun, to return to work so that the department could begin to work on the issues at hand. The reality is, the officers in question would literally be walking into the fire should  they return to workplace without any actual changes in place.

The Brookline Police Department has always been a welcoming place.  I can’t imagine that individuals from varying ethnic backgrounds would seek employment there if they truly felt otherwise. People must realize that no one can totally stomp out ignorance. Ignorance is conditioned over long periods of time, normally starting at childhood, just as prejudice and racism are. We have centuries behind to confirm this.  All anyone can do is educate those that need it and want it. You have to want change to be able to change.

If any one person is making comments or threats, then they and they alone should answer for their behavior. It should be clear as to who is in fact at fault in any situation.  As for the situation involving the officers of the Brookline Police Department, a lot of time has passed. Unfortunately, wounds are still fresh and questions still remain without answers. Matters I’m sure are further complicated because of their police union. The reputations of all involved are in question. We must realize that there are many officers that have given up their own personal days and vacation days to cover the officers who are out on leave. Those are not the actions of colleagues who don’t care about their co-workers. I again say, that the behavior of a handful of people should in no way represent that of the majority.

Moving forward, all efforts should be made by everyone involved to follow through on requests and complaints to ensure a safe return for the officers. The idea that anyone would expect or assume that an employee should return to work without any obvious change to a preexisting situation clearly doesn’t realize the severity of the situation at hand.

Officers Prentice Pilot and Estifanos Zerai-Misgun are still out because they know no changes have been made. There have been meetings, protests, TV interviews, etc. But no true plan for change set in place. No reprimands for those who’ve done wrong. You have to ask yourself, would you return to work if you felt threatened by your co-workers and knew that despite your best efforts, nothing has changed? I know that I’d think twice.

I am personally upset for all the police officers who have given their personal time to support officers Prentice Pilot and Estifanos Zerai-Misgun to show their support.  They too are being affected by what’s going on. My only wish is that a resolution comes about sooner than later. Everyone deserves to feel safe wherever they are. Anyone getting in the way of someone’s ability to feel safe should have to answer to that, no matter who they are.

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