Black While Policing: A Miami Officer Shares His Experience

Jan 15, 2015

Major Delrish Moss with the City of Miami Police Department talks about being stereotyped as a black man and as a police officer.
Credit Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Right now, there's a national discussion happening around race and how police treat black men. 

But what happens to that conversation when you pair being a black man with also being a police officer?

Miami Major Delrish Moss talks about his experiences — from being a high school student who cleaned floors at the Biscayne Federal Bank to now being a Miami Police Department officer.

Listen to him here, and below, read excerpts from his story. We do want to tell you that this piece contains a racial epithet.

Police Encounters in High School:

I was walking home one day from my job at Biscayne Federal and I’m just walking ...Suddenly I’m on Seventh Avenue and a police officer pulls up and pushes me against a wall. He starts to frisk me and he sees I don’t have anything. He asked me what [I was doing there] and I said, "I’m coming from work."

And then, just as suddenly as he came, he jumped in his car and left. And he did nothing in that encounter to restore my dignity.

Another experience I had I was downtown again sitting on a bus stop waiting for a bus to take me from school to my other job... and a police officer pulled up just like the other police officer.

And this one got out, he started searching around the bus stop. I was the only one sitting there. He checked my bag without asking and he told me, “Niggers don’t walk downtown after dark”

It shook me to the core.

Those early encounters fueled my passion to become a police officer and one of the things that I promised was that I would be a good and responsible police officer.

Social Media Hate:

I’m very active with social media and I was starting to see a trend. Police bashing because of the situation in Ferguson, police bashing because of the situation in New York.

And a lot of people started to really, really start the all cops are bad, all cops are bad conversation. A lot of the people who were positing things along those lines were African-American.

I thought it was my place to speak to how it makes me feel and I sat down and in a few seconds I typed out a few keystrokes.

“Saying that all cops are bad based on the actions of a few is as horrible a stereotype as saying all black men are bad because of a few commit crime.”  

When people say, "I hate all police officers," that’s just a blanket statement that bothers me. When people say they hate all black people, that’s a blanket statement that bothers me because I fit in both of those categories.

Representing African-Americans

You’re always taught as an African-American that your actions don’t just represent you. Your actions represent us.

In the police department I make sure to bring an African-American point of view to the table. But as an African-American, I make sure to bring a law enforcement point of view to the table every chance I get.

Delrish Moss is a major with the City of Miami police department. He oversees the communications department.