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For a Black LAPD officer, police reckoning brings pressure from protesters and fellow cops

Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Silva felt the officer said "black-skinned" with disgust, and took it as a slur.

While he has also been offered support from other colleagues, Silva said he has been left at times with a feeling of "being in between" his colleagues and other Black people on the street — commiserating with both, and feeling judged on all sides.

"There's a lot of confusion from the civilians, and ... a lot of anger there, too," Silva said. "From our [police] side, I feel sometimes there's some understanding and sometimes there's no understanding, and ... not to be so harsh, but no common sense of different cultures."

Still, he is optimistic about his future as a police officer — and wants to be part of a vanguard of young officers who help mend police relationships in the community.

If L.A. is ever going to build such trust, rank-and-file officers and community members have to get to know each other better and to understand each other as people rather than as badges or crime statistics, Silva said.

It's why he agreed to share his story with The Times, and why, if he ever got a chance to talk to the young men who taunted him on the stairs, he'd want to start from the beginning — his beginning.

 

"I've been through it," he'd tell them.

Becoming a cop

When Silva was a baby, he was found by LAPD officers in a car seat on top of a dumpster near 6th and San Pedro streets in Skid Row, less than a mile from where he would later stand opposite the protesters at police headquarters.

Through his biological mother, who he said was a homeless sex worker, Silva was addicted to crack cocaine, the side effects of which would linger for years as he fought to overcome developmental delays, first in foster care and later with his adoptive family.

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