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Crucial Conversations: Former state representative Willie Talton speaks on race relations in law enforcement

Talton served a career in law enforcement beginning in 1965, hired by the city of Warner Robins as one of the first two black officers in the city’s history.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Crucial Conversations are happening in our community that are challenging the way people think.

13WMAZ's Marvin James sat down with retired law enforcement officer and former state representative from Warner Robins Willie Talton about his views on race relations. 

Talton served a career in law enforcement beginning in 1965, hired by the city of Warner Robins as one of the first two black officers in the city’s history.

"We had problems, but it's a sad time to see the country and especially our communities and everything across the whole state, because what I've been seeing on television with the rioting and injustice and mistreatment of minorities by police officers is not acceptable," Talton said. 

Talton says he’s proud of the local community’s reaction to protesting the death of George Floyd. 

"From what I saw on television by all means, he was wrong. I'm not condoning what the rioting is doing. That is wrong when you're looting and destroying people's property and taking from them that's wrong. I think that citizens have a right to voice their opinions or disagreements with elected officials, but I think there are peaceful ways of doing it and I think they should be protected." 

But through all the rioting and protesting across the country, Talton says we can't forget the positive that law enforcement brings to the table as well. 

“We have some fine police officers, but sometimes, one person or two people or whatever can cause a bad reflection on all,” Talton explains, “But I think the community should take their hats off to the service that our law enforcement gives. It’s a dangerous job because people will hurt you. You heard with all that rioting going on where an officer got hurt and one lost his life, so that’s painful. They want to go home to their families, too, but our badge and gun doesn’t make us better than anybody else, that’s just part of our tools to work with. Just like a carpenter goes to work with their tools, so we have to have tools to work with, but we must know that we aren’t there to abuse people but we must know we’re not to be abused. But I like what we’re doing as far as the community of Warner Robins working together and I just want them to continue that.”

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