The neighborhood barbershop has long been a place for open dialogue. Now, Atlanta police are joining the conversation in a monthly series called “Clippers and Cops.”
Founded a year ago by veteran Atlanta Police Department Detective Tyrone Dennis, Clippers and Cops aims to dismantle the disconnect between law enforcement and the community it serves. Monthly meetings are typically held in different community barbershops throughout Atlanta. This school year, Clippers and Cops has created a customized program for South Atlanta High School.
At the Sept. 19 kickoff event, South Atlanta High School hosted Clippers and Cops in open conversation with Law Pathway students.
“The Clippers and Cops presentation to my law program students was absolutely inspiring, totally real, and genuinely impactful,” said Thomas Dunn, law and justice teacher. “My students were engaged, entertained, educated and mesmerized. The best guest speaker program I have ever seen. This program is the epitome of what community policing should look like.”
Students agreed. It seems what Dunn’s 10th grade class appreciated most were the cops’ down-to-earth personalities and relatability:
“The cops that came into our class to speak were straight up,” said KaNiya Terry. “When I think of cops, I do not think of guys like them. I think of mean and ready-to-kill-anybody cops. The six men who came were very outspoken, and they made me rethink about cops in a positive way. We should have more cops like them in our community – cops that actually care about their community. They even inspired some students in my class to chase their dreams and never give up. Several students even said they were going to become a cop after the presentation.”
“Clippers and Cops was really positive because they were up front about answering our tough questions with no hesitation,” said Quintay Thomas. “If there were more officers like them, the community would be more cooperative with the police.”
“What I liked about Clippers and Cops is that they came from the same type of environments as us,” said John Lawton. “They talked to us like real men. They didn’t tell us things that we wanted to hear. They kept it real, telling us about the real world and that prison life isn’t what we want as young black men.”
“Clippers and Cops was great,” said Diosis Lavalle. “They were cool as well as funny. They care about their job and their community. If there were more cops like them, it would be great. They help people to want to do better. They answered questions that other cops wouldn’t want to answer. Some students even considered wanting to be a cop because of their presentation.”
The Clippers and Cops organization has the full support of Principal Patricia Ford.
“It is my belief that law enforcement should build relationships with the community through interactions such as this, which will ultimately reduce crime and disorder,” said Dr. Ford. “My students at South Atlanta High School deserve the opportunity to come into contact with the police in such a way that will allow them to develop confidence and trust in them as a public service. We’re looking forward to a continued partnership with Atlanta Police Department.”
Detective Dennis and colleagues plan to return to South Atlanta every third Thursday to speak to Law Pathway students.