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Michigan State Police Flint post commander has spent career bridging racial gap

(WJRT)
Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 5:47 PM EDT
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(6/2/2020) - “I'm not a sellout. I'm trying to help.This is the way I want to help,” First Lieutenant Yvonne Brantley said.

She’s been a Michigan State Trooper for 25 years, serving multiple communities across our state.

F/Lt. Brantley rose through the ranks at MSP and now heads the Flint Post.

She is the highest ranking African American woman currently serving with the Michigan State Police.

The long-standing divide between police and the African American community is something she understands from both sides.

But, she's dedicated her career to putting an end to it.

F/Lt. Brantley explained what's pushed her this far is treating other people the way she wants to be treated. It's a lesson she's instilling in the 71 troopers she now oversees.

“Everybody who's a human being who has compassion, who knows the difference between right and wrong, saw that and were outraged,” she said. “And, that's why you see what's going on here.”

Watching the now infamous death of George Floyd as a Minneapolis Police Office knelt on his neck, reminded F/Lt. Brantley why she never wanted to be a police officer.

“I was the kid who played in the street; and, we were always being harassed by the police and that’s not something I've ever wanted to be involved in,” she explained.

But at 11-years-old, her family car caught on fire. And, a Michigan State Police Trooper responded to the scene

“He put us all in his patrol car,” she said. “He drove us home and then my Grandmother asked him, ‘Do you want to come in for a cup of coffee?’ And when he said yes, I mean, I took a step back and I'm like wow.”

She still gets goosebumps talking about the day her career path changed, when she saw the human beyond the badge.

“I've never used my taser, never had to use my taser; because the most powerful weapon that I have is not around my gun belt, it's right here,” she said, pointing to her mouth.

Communication and actually being a part of the community, Lt. Brantley explained, are the keys to mending the broken relationship between law enforcement and the people they serve.

“We have worked so hard to build trust within this community and we won't -- we don't want to do anything that's going to jeopardize that, you know. So, if we walk with them, if we take a knee with them, that's what you're supposed to do,” she said. “We have to put them first. It's not about us. It's not! It's about them.”

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