FORT WAYNE, (WANE) — After the George Floyd protests, the Fort Wayne Police Department struggled to hire new police officers.
In the wake of protests that erupted in downtown Fort Wayne, Mayor Tom Henry formed the Commission on Police Reform and Racial Justice. One of the goals of this board was to add more minorities to the police force.
In an exclusive behind-the-scenes look, WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee had the opportunity to shadow one of FWPD’s new officers to see what it’s like for a new officer on the force.
Officers Waters joined the force last summer. Before becoming an officer, he was a track and field coach for about a decade. What pushed his decision to change careers was “the public cry for more diversity.”
“A lot of the time the interaction with officers are usually a traffic stop or a call for service, but I’m in the community playing basketball, able to talk with different friends and family. Just various opportunities to be in the community and making an impact,” Officer Waters said.
One of the first stops during his run is at an apartment complex, to visit eight-year-old Yavoni Lee. This is a routine stop that he makes weekly. He met the young boy while out on a run and visits him and his grandmother on a regular basis to make sure they are doing well.
“When he do that at that moment his presence is really needed and helps me out, because my grandson does better the rest of the day,” said Rosella Lee, Yavoni’s grandmother.
“I just want to make sure he understands and knows that men and women behind the badge generally care about him,” Officer Waters said. “That was one of the reasons I chose this profession. To be honest, he was very apprehensive to speak with me, he ran into his room, into the closet. I had another officer with me and we both went inside the room got down at eye-level with him and just spoke with him. After a 25-minute interaction he was more respective.”
Another part of his job is responding to calls and patrolling his quadrant in southwest Fort Wayne. The importance of patrolling is to show the police presence and make residents feel safe.
Waters has been on the force for about a year and says it’s a decision that he doesn’t regret. He describes his new career path as challenging, humbling and rewarding.
The department said it is currently looking for recruits. Anyone interested can apply here.