LOUDON (WATE) – A Loudon County law enforcement officer is going public with his message about race and law enforcement. The issue is hardly new, but it’s been back in the national spotlight partly because of the availability of technology and social media, which is how African-American Lt. Patrick Upton with the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office is spreading his message.
“This ‘us against them’ has got to stop. We all need to stick together at this point,” said Upton in the video.
He recorded it in April after a white South Carolina police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man. The Loudon County Sheriff’s Investigator felt compelled to speak up on police shootings and racial tensions.
“I’m sorry for the victim that’s now deceased because of the stupid actions of one officer. I’m sorry for the good officers over there,” he said in the video.
His wife posted that 10 minute video on Facebook last week for hundreds of others to see, saying it was long, but to please listen. At first, Lt. Upton said he was skeptical about his wife posting it, but says the response from the community has been very positive.
Upton says he provides a unique perspective on the two issues.
“Being a black police officer, sometimes you get it on both sides. Sometimes you have to juggle between the two,” he said.
He says incidents like the one in South Carolina have caused problems and divided the country in some ways.
“Don’t hold the whole police force responsible for one mistake an officer did. And the flip side of that coin, don’t hold a whole race or a whole group responsible if somebody in that group does something to a police officer,” he said.
Upton believes social media could also be part of the problem with some movements going viral that say certain lives matter.
“All this talk of black lives matter, police lives matter. All lives matter and I think we’ve gotten to the point where everybody’s thinking it’s one side against the other and it’s not like that.”
Lt. Upton emphasized several times that each individual involved in one of these police shootings should be held accountable and not the entire group. He says in his 29 years in law enforcement, he sticks to following standard operating procedures if a situation escalates.