Exclusive: Being police officer during the social justice movement

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. — Local officers say the social justice movement is making it harder to do their jobs. Action News Jax spoke exclusively with a Nassau County Deputy, and a local officer who retired early.

Nassau County Deputy Bobby Smith comes from a family of police officers.

“We all get into this job to help people, not hurt people.” Smith said.

While most days are fulfilling for Smith, he said he faces backlash from some for simply being in uniform.

“it’s just frustrating because my first goal is to- I like to help people, to be artificially judged based upon my uniform…” Smith said.

The other local officer requested a concealment of his identity for this story, he said he retired early amid protests against police brutality across the country.

“When it became hostile towards the police, and the police were just standing there to protect everybody, that is when I knew the moment for me, and I was done. I loved being a police officer but at the same time I was ready to be done, I hate the attack that was on my calling and my career. I hate it.” The officer said.

The impact of that public backlash is also being felt by his loved ones.

Is has changed their behavior, no police bumper stickers on the family car or wearing police t-shirts in public.

“It’s been kind of scary for my family, my family requested we quit doing that for fear of retribution from someone when we are out and about.” The officer said.

According to the FBI, there was an almost 15% jump in felonious officer deaths so far this year, compared to the same period of time last year. That’s when an officer dies in the line of duty – at the hands of suspect.

The long-time officer admits, some change needs to take place within law enforcement. “I’m not denying there is police brutality, it has been going on for years.” He said. a 2020 Harvard study found between 2013 and 2017 black people were three times more likely to be killed by police than white people. “When there are a few bad apples, and it makes the rest of you look bad, it does mess with your psyche, your heart, and mentality of what you are doing.” The officer said.

Both men say they want people to see there is more to the badge, and work to be done on both sides. “I want people to understand that there’s people behind the badge. This uniform is what I do, not who I am as a person.” Smith said.