Racial equality and law enforcement are major issues. What’s the solution? In this interview with Lisa Chandler, a leader among leaders, you’ll find practical tips on how to respond to racism from her unique perspective. “I get to be on both sides of it. I’m in law enforcement and I’m a Black woman,” said Lisa.
Lisa’s the President of LIFE at LEMIT, a leadership and training conference. It stands for Leadership Inventory for Female Executives at the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas. She’s also a panelist for the Start Again Financial Resilience Webinar on Thursday June 25! Be sure to register today here. It’s a free one of a kind virtual event on resilience.
Lisa said, “Yes, I’ve experienced racism. It’s everywhere.” Also, she’s aware of how everyone in law enforcement is highly criticized, “It’s uncomfortable to be in law enforcement now.”
How Lisa Addressed Racism with Her Career Choice
Lisa wanted to become a police officer to see more people that look like her, but with a badge on. The volatile environment between law enforcement and communities has increased significantly over the seven years she’s been a police officer.
“I’m not trading in. I want to make it better and be a part of the change one step at time,” said Lisa.
Lisa took action and invested in developing her leadership skills through LIFE at LEMIT a few years ago. “This class dissected you as a person,” she said.
There were personality tests and tools to learn your personal strengths and weaknesses. She gained new skills like being able to take criticism better. Lisa said, “I learned things that made me aware of who I am. It was therapeutic.”
Racial Equality and Law Enforcement
Lisa acknowledged that change needs to occur. “If we can come together and talk about it, we can come out stronger,” she said.
She believes having community meetings is a good starting point. “Let’s make it a peaceful debate. We have to meet and talk about it until we come into a workable solution. What action plans can we carry out?” said Lisa.
Alongside having open conversations to reach solutions, Lisa believes communication is key. She’s an advocate for having more communication courses.
On the job, 99% of the time she talks to people the same way she’d talk to her own daughter to get a potentially dangerous situation under control. Additional training for de-escalation strategies can help calm violent situations down without the use of any force.
Verbal Judo, specifically teaches how to use words and active listening to get voluntary compliance.
Lisa said, “I don’t know one police officer that would back the video (of George Floyd) in any way. Those officers need to be held accountable. Never once have I seen anyone put their knee in someone’s neck. We don’t do that.”
Lisa said that isn’t the representation police officers want, like looting isn’t the reputation the Black Lives Matters want.
Law Enforcement and Mental Health
“Mental illness is an underlying issue,” said Lisa. She explained mental health impacts law enforcement in many ways. Police officers in training go through psychological testing, face-to-face interviews, and lie detector tests. There’s still human error and Lisa said the stigma with addressing mental health exists.
Crisis Intervention training helps officers respond to calls with mental health issues. Chemical imbalances can appear to a police officer as intoxication and anger. Training helps bring awareness of how to recognize signs of mental illness and handle a crisis.
Another aspect is if someone has a predisposition for mental health concerns but grows up in a low-income household, they won’t have access to get the diagnosis and treatment as soon as a child in a high-income neighborhood would, Lisa explained. This is a lesser known example of systemic inequity.
What Experiencing Racism is Like
Lisa shared a time she experienced racism. Four years ago, she went to an apartment complex to sign a lease. “I felt the tension; you could cut it with a knife.”
The leasing manager was short and didn’t want to have a conversation with her. There was no customer service. Lisa said she could have had a bad day, but the common denominator was clearly her. She didn’t have the same attitude with the person before.
“It’s a turn off and it hurts your feelings. You can sense someone doesn’t enjoy talking to you. It’s uncomfortable,” said Lisa.
Race and the Pay Gap
According to the U.S. Census, on average Black women are paid 61% of white male counterparts in 2018. Lisa hasn’t experienced a pay gap as a police officer in her department. “You should be paid for the quality of your work. I don’t think race and sex should play a part,” said Lisa.
In the corporate world, you have to see how those pay decisions are being made. “It’s hurtful. There’s no way I’d be ok (with unequal pay). You’re telling me my value is worth less. It’s a slap in the face,” said Lisa.
The Best Way to Promote Equality
If you’re looking for ways to promote equality Lisa said, “Standing against racism is a daily action.”
She sees companies responding to racism and supporting Black Lives Matters and Black businesses urgently now. “It looks like it’s an agenda. Why weren’t you supporting us yesterday?” said Lisa.
Also, it doesn’t mean stop supporting white owned businesses. “The point of equality isn’t favoritism. No one wants handouts,” said Lisa.
Her advice is to look at yourself, and ask, ‘Why am I only now noticing the racism in America? Why am I just now paying attention to discrimination?’
She explained, change comes when you make small changes daily. “Remember when this dies down, consistency is the best way to support equality,” said Lisa.
In conclusion Lisa said, “There’s a lot to work on, we can continue to fight. What I’ve noticed as a country, is when it’s time to come together, we will.”
P.S. Want to hear more on racial equality and law enforcement? Lisa is a panelist for the Start Again Financial Resilience Webinar. Get the details and register here. It’s free, but you need to register to get access!