‘I choose to be blue:’ Black Waterbury officers talk about being on the force while condemning death of George Floyd

New Haven

WATERBURY, CONN. (WTNH) — As communities across the nation and here in Connecticut grapple with the aftermath of the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Black members of law enforcement said they are being labeled “traitors” and worse.

“I was born Black,” Waterbury Police Sergeant Renee Harvey told News 8 in an exclusive interview. “Contrary to popular belief it does not wash off when I put this uniform on. I consider it a blessing to be Black. I chose to be blue because I felt there needed to be more Black in blue.”

Sergeant Harvey told News 8 she is now also responsible for teaching bias and cultural diversity classes to officers in several Connecticut police departments — one way she feels she is making an impact when it comes to how officers interact with people of color here.

“We need to be here inside and that’s where we make a difference,” she said. “That’s where we help our communities.”

News 8 asked her reaction to what happened to Floyd.

“What happened to George Floyd was horrendous,” said Sgt. Harvey. “It hurts.”

“I was completely disgusted,” added Waterbury Detective Andrea Saunders.

Detective Saunders, who – during her off time – has created a nonprofit to help many Waterbury families, particularly minority families, said she also felt other emotions when Waterbury protestors lashed out at her, including people she’s helped in the past.

RELATED: 28 arrested in Waterbury weekend protests after crowds temporarily shut down traffic on I-84, city streets

“I was getting all kinds of derogatory names for Black people,” said Detective Saunders.

“We were told we weren’t Black because we wore this uniform,” said Sgt. Harvey. “It hurt.”

Together, Detectives Saunders and Harvey have served Waterbury for nearly 40 years. Both feel as if they are speaking up and supporting people of color — some ways the public can see — others it cannot.

They say the reason why they joined law enforcement still holds true today.

“I want to help someone else,” said Detective Saunders.

Both also say they have several things in common with peaceful protesters — one of which is the desire to be heard.

“I’m Black and I’m proud,” said Sergeant Harvey. “That doesn’t change because I’m in law enforcement.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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