Disclaimer: In no way does Officer Boamah’s outlook reflect the NYPD organization or any other affiliated police organizations.
This year has been a year for the books some would say, not just our country but for the world. From natural disasters to a pandemic and racial injustice, 2020 is not what anyone saw coming, to say the least.
Protestors took to the streets after the death of a black Minneapolis man named George Floyd, whose name still remains central in protests. Floyd was killed by a police officer during an arrest back in May. His death sparked nationwide outrage and reignited a conservation that has been going on for years, and yet again, calls for change. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which was formed in 2013 to fight against racial injustice and police brutality, led protests all around the country again this year, spreading chants of “no justice, no peace,” calling for police reform and even to defund the police.
The movement and the issues at hand have brought out opinions on all sides and in some cases, have caused a divide. So I figured it was time to sit down and have an open conversation with someone who, as a police officer and a black man, has experience on both sides.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Officer Boamah of the NYPD’s 100th Precinct in Rockaway Beach. As we spoke, I got to learn about Victor, how he became a police officer and his views on current events. Please note, his opinions and stories do not represent the NYPD as a whole, as they are his own.
Boamah moved to the Rockaways from Ghana, West Africa when he was eight years old. A pillar for this community, Boamah runs his own nonprofit organization, Giving the Gift of Love Inc, and has served as president of the 101st Precinct Council, acting as a bridge between the community and officers, until he decided to take it a step further and become an NYPD officer himself.
Q: What year did you become a police Officer?
A: I became a police officer in July of 2018.
Q: When did you first think about becoming a police officer?
A: When I was in college, my older brother suggested I should take the test. I wasn’t really thinking about being a cop, but it was his birthday and I wanted to do it for him.
Q: When did you get called to the NYPD?
A: After I graduated college in 2013, I was working for the Queens Library when I got the call to start the candidate assessment. At that time, I did not want to become a cop, so I was able to push it back.
Q: So what ultimately made you decide to become a cop?
A: I was President of the Community Council of the 101st Precinct at the time. We were having a community council meeting and Officer Kevin Campbell, who recently retired, was there. After the meeting, he and I were talking and he tells me, “you have to do this.” I told him there was nothing wrong with being a cop, but it wasn’t for me. He knew I was already helping the community and working with kids so he thought this would be a good opportunity for me. He said, “I see something in you that you don’t see.” So I finally took his advice. The very next day, I emailed the candidate assessment and they put me back in the system. Then that was it, I started the process of becoming a cop.
Q: What was your experience growing up with police officers in our community?
A: That was one of the reasons it was hard for me to become a cop. Growing up as a black kid, I did not always have positive interactions. It always stood with me. Like what Maya Angelou said, “people will never forget how you made them feel.” I remember when I was in Far Rockaway High School, we would get out of school and we would all walk in packs. One day on Mott, we were all walking and the cops came up to us. They pushed us to the wall, tossed us and patted us down. We asked them what this was for and they didn’t give us any explanation. They just disrespected us, some cursed us out and left.
Q: I can see why you must have been conflicted about becoming a cop. So what are your thoughts with the BLM movement and George Floyd?
A: What happened to George Floyd was bad and not acceptable. I believe everyone has the right to peaceful protest, I don’t see an issue with that. You have that right. People that are there to peaceful protest and want to see change, I applaud them. I truly get it. Things need to change. I know the climate that we are in, especially being a black police officer.
Q: How do you feel about the riots and looting?
A: I think sometimes the message gets lost when people are not there to protest. They come with their own agendas. So as you can see, a criminal will take any opportunity to commit crimes. You have people that are there to loot and cause destruction. Those people are not protestors.
Q: What about defunding the police?
A: I think it would cost too much damage to the community. If a serious crime happens and you don’t have the personnel there to help or the equipment, it can make matters worse. Another thing, we have to be honest, we are not living in gated communities here in the city. People in wealthy areas that live in gated communities might feel safer but for the five boroughs, it is different. Defunding and abolishing the police is definitely not a good idea because criminals will rejoice. They will have a free for all. I do believe there needs to be a reform though from top to the bottom. Reform is gradually taking place and that is what I believe in.
Q: What can help gap the bridge between the community and the police?
A: Today in the 101st Precinct, there is a softball game between the kids and the police. It’s events like this that bring the whole community together. Also, one of my favorite events is the street clean up because you have the police and the community cleaning the streets together. It may be a little thing but it’s actually big because they are working together. I remember in that event, most of the participants were kids and I feel that it is very good to get the youth engaged at such an early age. It also helps to build trust. I believe in more community and police interactions. I know Covid has slowed down some events but hopefully we can get the okay soon to safely do these events.
Q: Anything would like the community to know about being a police officer?
A: It’s always good to be kind and being kind goes along way. And to be a police officer, you have to be kind, fair and respectful. It is a very dangerous job and you have to be safe. Every day I go on patrol and do the best that I can. I want to improve the community and police relationship.
Q: Is there anything else you would like the community to know about you?
A: Having a negative interaction with a police officer when I was younger, to now becoming a cop, I was able to turn a negative interaction into something positive. That goes a long way. I could have been bitter about that whole situation. But now as a police officer, I can’t be everywhere at once but the areas I am in, I can make sure that doesn’t happen to anyone else. I want other youth to have a positive interaction that will stick with them.
Boamah hopes for many more events to come, bringing our community together. Through Giving the Gift of Love inc., he is helping to do just that. When Covid hit our area hard, Boamah and other volunteers went around Rockaway giving out food. They will also be having a back to school event soon at which they will give out school supplies to kids and schools that are in need. In keeping with the desire of turning a negative into a positive, Boamah continues to help bridge that gap between officers and citizens, which at a time like this, could not be more important.
By: Nicole Taylor-LangBLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS