It’s Time For A Change

I’m feeling conflicted and heartbroken for my autistic son’s future.

As I’m getting dressed for work today, I noticed my sixteen year old son, Lawrence looking at all the headlines and stories in the news…

My son then makes the comment, ‘I dislike cops.’ 

Wow.

Talk about a feeling of confusion as I’m now wearing my uniform. I am a Corrections Office and a Field Training Officer.

I’m also a single mom, doing my best to raise a developmentally disabled son that has huge communication issues. 

He is not aggressive.

He is tall, muscular, calm and in his own world.

Some people might take him the wrong way. 

I am truly scared and frightened for my son’s future. 

I know not all cops are trigger happy.

I also know that some are. 

I’ve been pulled over by officers in the past and treated a certain way due to my skin color. 

I’ve seen those same officers change, when they find out where I work. 

I’ve dealt with officers that are crazy cool and down to earth and do not see color. 

I’ve been followed around in a store.

I’ve seen my son followed in a store as he is wearing a hoodie on a rainy day.

I’ve been followed by cops as I drive through a nice neighborhood when I go to visit friends. 

I see how I get labeled as aggressive if I am upset and voice my opinion. 

I consistently have to have “the talk” with my son.

This is the reality of a person of color. 

Now here I am running behind for work as I explain to my son that not all officers behave in a negative manner. 

I explain that the actions of those bad apples, have all the good ones royally pissed off. 

Once again, I need to try and instill the trust in my son with law enforcement, if he should ever need them. 

It’s heartbreaking and truly a sad world that we are living in. 

I hate the fear that we experience because of a few bad people. 

I hate the negative, violent behavior displayed by my people when trying to make a change. 

It’s time for change, law enforcement and the communities they serve really need to have a face to face conversation. 

Law enforcement agencies need to have these conversations with their officers about these uncomfortable truths. 

Our lives are at stake, all of our lives, officers and the communities they serve. 

As I head into work, I’m feeling scared, conflicted, and heartbroken for the future of my autistic son.

Written by, Dawn Carter

I am Dawn…I am a single mom to a 16-year-old son that was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 ½. During the time of his evaluations, I was attending classes at St. Petersburg College training to be a Corrections Officer. I have been working in the field for fourteen years dealing with all genres of people. Lawrence and I have had our share of trials and tribulations over these years and have always come out on top. In the beginning, Lawrence was nearly non-verbal, self-abusive, lacked eye contact and did not like to be touched. Now, he is an amazing dancer, partnering with girls and giving the judges eye contact at competitions. He is no longer self- abusive and can communicate. Although he is verbal, communication and comprehension continue to be a struggle. We just take things one day at a time and do the best we can with the situation.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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