Interview with Howard Saffold

Now, in 1968, you were a relatively new officer on the force. Now, as a Black policeman, what were some of the things about the police-community relations that were beginning to, um, concern you? What were you seeing? What did you feel?


1968 was about my third year on the job. I had been assigned as a recruit coming out of the training academy to a predominantly White community, and I was the only Black officer that worked on the shift that I worked on. And it was an experience that sort of introduced me to the Chicago Police Department probably in a, in a, in a fashion that most Blacks don't get introduced to it under normal circumstances 'cause they don't basically send us to White communities when we first come out of the academy. Because of the numbers, basically, there's not enough of us to go around. But, I had, uh, worked in a district where there was a small, uh, community of Hispanics that lived in that particular area of the city, and, um, I recall very vividly one incident where I watched a young Hispanic kid that had stolen an automobile be subjected to probably, um, one of the most brutal, physical beatings a person could ever endure. And he was only about seventeen years old at the time. And I was like, uh, about four weeks on the street, and it was rather horrifying, as a matter of fact, when I looked around and I saw some police supervisor personnel looking at the incident, etc. It made me wonder, "What do they do when, uh, when, uh, there's nobody here?" Um, um, consequently, I ended up, or subsequently, I ended coming to, coming back to the south side of Chicago after several, um, rather interesting experiences in that predominantly White community.