Interview with Otis Pitts

When you were a policeman walking the beat in Overtown, what was it like? How did you feel in the community in that day?


Well, being a policeman in 1970s was a very challenging I think for most Blacks because it was at a time when the country was still going through a tumult about, ah, you know, ah, the pigs, et cetera, et cetera. And for a Black officer it was real tough because you, you were considered in some cases to be a traitor, quote, unquote. So it's always, you felt very ambivalent about being a police officer. I mean, my father is a retired policeman so, you know, I had sort of tradition in the family and I, of course, held a, you know, police officers in sort of high regard. But it was a little difficult and I did feel rather mixed emotions myself about it because, ah, I really felt that the police department and law enforcement, probably in general, ah, the criminal justice system I guess in general, was, in my opinion, still the conservative. So, you found yourself carrying a lot of water, being a policeman because there were a lot of racist policemen still in the police department. There's a, there's a lot of racist practices as such. Ah, so you always have sort of an ambivalent feeling about it. You also recognized that some of the problems that you encountered on that beat were problems that were real outgrowths of poverty as such. And so you weren't always sure what you were, what you were fighting at some point. And I think offers a rather introspective and, you know, a fairly philosophical period, I guess in, in America I guess.