NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — After the tension of the previous week, News 8 sought out the unique perspective of one person who sits on all sides of the perceived divide. He’s a black man, a Muslim and also a sergeant for the New Haven Police Department.
Sgt. Shafiq Abdussabur, is the type of cop who never rolls his windows up. It’s easy to see the reason why, as he’s constantly waving and speaking to people in the Newhallville neighborhood. It’s his way of establishing and maintaining a personal relationship with the community, which he said is essential to effective policing.
“It begins with you as an individual, building that relationship,” Sgt. Abdussabur said during a ride-along Tuesday afternoon. “It’s one-on-one relationships.”
“There’s a whole lot of techniques to engage the community under dangerous circumstances without resulting instantaneously to gunfire,” he said.
As the newly-appointed district manager for one of the largest areas of the city, the subsequent assassination of five Dallas police officers alarms him.
“That was a really bad week for me. If danger is going to come to me, it’s just going to have to come, because I can’t ride with the windows up,” Sgt. Abdussabur said. “It’s about public trust. That’s what it’s about. Maintaining the public trust.”
He’s also raising two young black sons. Worry for their safety, keeps him up at night.
“I’m worrying about two things; I’m worrying about him being stopped, not particularly in New Haven, but some suburban towns,” he said. “I’m concerned about him also being assaulted by another black male who might be carrying a firearm. These are the two threat levels African Americans face in America.”
As a practicing Muslim, it makes him a member of yet another potentially marginalized group. But through it all, he stays positive. Finding salvation in his service to the community he loves.
“I signed up for this job. I wasn’t drafted. I can work anyplace I want. I can leave anytime I want. No cop has to be on the job,” Sgt. Abdussabur said. “We do this job because we decided to do this job.”