St. Petersburg police Chief Tony Holloway lost friends when he became a cop. He knows some people hate him for being one.
“They don’t see me as a black man, they see me as a police officer,” he said. “You’re working for the man.”
As a national race and policing debate swells, Holloway and other black officers find themselves in a thorny middle ground between a fiercely loyal law enforcement community and some minorities that do not trust authorities.
The difficult position was highlighted by a recent Facebook post from Baton Rouge police Officer Montrell Jackson. On July 8, after an ambush killed five officers in Dallas, Jackson wrote that he loved his Louisiana city but wasn’t sure it loved him back.
He was shot to death Sunday with two other cops.
“In uniform I get nasty hateful looks,” he had written, “and out of uniform some consider me a threat.”
Some officers in the Tampa Bay area routinely face the tension of such a dual existence.
“I think in general, because of the position we hold, we’re not going to always make people happy,” said Hillsborough sheriff’s Deputy Monique Greco.
Greco, a Tampa native, has been a sheriff’s deputy for 16 years. Part of what attracted her to the job, she said, was a desire to bring change from within the ranks of police. Growing up in Town ‘N Country, she knew male family members who had negative encounters with cops.