OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — When you see police flashing lights, your heart races, you become tense. Officers sometimes approach with a hand on their firearm. If you are Black, you may think, "will I become a statistic, or will I make it home tonight?"
This is just one of the excerpts motivational speaker and author Dwayne Bryant shares in his book, The STOP.
The STOP is an acronym for support teaching of principals. With everything going on right now, this book sums up various situations eloquently and how to survive the stop.
"We finally got white voices saying, 'This is systematic across the board, we need change,' and for the first time I believe change will happen," Bryant said.
And wanting to bring about change is why Bryant wrote the book. It's about helping people understand how to safely deal with being stopped by police.
"According the the FBI, many Neo Nazi and white supremacists have joined law enforcement in police departments across the country," Bryant said. "Don't know which officer is coming. I don't know if this is the professional officer who has taken their oath to protect and serve seriously, or if this is that racist officer who is hoping to make me angry to the point where there is some type of chaos. You want to be prepared, you want to have your plan in place, you want to make sure you totally increase your probability that there is going to be no drama in this stop. I tell everyone you have power over your words, your body language and your tone."
He says we must start with mutual respect, personal responsibility and accountability. And there is sometimes criminal activity on both parts.
"The reality is police is just afraid as we are," Bryant said. "The difference is they have the ability to react quickly with lethal force."
And it is that lethal force he is trying to eliminate. But Bryant who is both college-educated and successful says each time he is pulled over, he knows police only see a Black man.
"Every time I get pulled over, I get nervous, even though I wrote the book."
He also knows the situation can go horribly wrong, or perfectly right.
"Lights on, hand visible, not too much fidgeting, be calm, have your I.D. ready, answer the question and wait for the responses," Bryant instructed. 'Why did you pull me over?' Nope, not necessary."
Although each incident has its own variables, the end result is the same. An unarmed person is dead.
"This problem is a human problem and so there is a human solution," Bryant said. "Change legislation, hold police accountable, make sure we are reviewing police contracts, make sure we do not have racists leading police departments, then we can sincerely begin to change things."
That change has to be a community-wide effort. That's why organizations like 100 Black Men of Omaha are so important.
"We've had a few real talks with the police, and they taught us what to do and what not to do," said Aven Cramer, a mentee of the program.
"It's the ability to see what other professional men/mentors are out there are doing so they can resemble that as they grow older," said Richard Webb, executive director and CEO of the program.
Bryant adds that although people can change their reaction to police when being pulled over, he does hold the police to a higher standard as they are being paid to protect and trained to deescalate situations.
You can learn more about The STOP here. Bryant usually travels in person to schools and community organizations, but due to COVID-19, he has taken his improving community relations program with police online.