Michele Adubato on the Police/Minority Relationship in Newark

Chief Executive Officer of the North Ward Center, Michele Adubato, shares her unique perspective on the police/minority relations in Newark.

1/21/17 #640






"This is Steve Adubato. It is my honor and my pleasure to introduce a young lady who I've known for a very long time. She is Michele Adubato, the chief executive officer at the North Ward Center... in fact, where we are taping a historic conversation. This conversation will be with a group of law enforcement professionals, community leaders, religious leaders, folks in government. That conversation is called "Building Trust: Race, Police, and the Community"... a very tough conversation about the challenges that we are having between the police, the minority community. Why did you agree, when I asked you, to have this conversation here? Well, I think we both talked about it, and it was a situation in which I felt, as the leader of the North Ward Center in the heart of a community that is affected by this... I think Newark, New Jersey represents the Newarks of the cities of the country. We're no different than the other cities that these things are going on. And I just felt a moral imperative to say, "As a group that sits right in the heart of this community, we needed to talk about this issue." You see this issue. You experience it from a variety of perspectives. Yes. Your son, Noel, is a police officer. You have been an educator, an educational administrator, a leader in the public school system for a few years before you came over here to lead the North Ward Center. You understand this issue and care about it from those perspectives. How does that inform and impact your view of police-minority relations? You know, you said something. You said I understand this issue. I don't know if I can say, as a white American, that I truly understand this issue. What I do understand is that there's inherent biases that create certain reflections of our society. To sit here and for me to say that I understand what it means to be someone of color walking around in the city or a police officer, for that matter, making split second decisions is something that at least I can respect, I want to validate it, and I want to hear about it. My son is a police officer, and I wasn't happy when he made that decision. In fact, I said, "Do anything else but this." And it wasn't... Why? It wasn't that I wasn't proud. I think that being a police officer is a wonderful job. I didn't want it for my son for selfish reasons. Not even because of the danger of being shot. It was the psychological dangers of seeing people at their worst. And think about it. That's what police officers do every day. They see people not because they're bad people, but they see people in very, very bad situations..."