HomeOpinionOur genuine relationships contribute to the storytelling of Jackson

Our genuine relationships contribute to the storytelling of Jackson

This week we published an emotional article, recounting how Jackson Police Officer Timothy McClain helped save the life of a baby found in a dumpster in Jackson. 

While the article was emotional, the interview itself had both me and Officer McClain in tears. It was more of a conversation than an interview. I just let him talk, occasionally asking him how he felt, and towards the end asking the “loaded question,” as he called it: What do you want Julius to know?

After the interview was over, he hugged me and said, “I’m glad it was you who I talked to.” 

And I knew exactly what he was talking about. 

When I went through Leadership Jackson (a several-month course through the Greater Jackson Chamber focused on community engagement) last year, one of my homework assignments was to participate in a police ride-along. 

In case you didn’t know, ride-alongs are open to the public, with a couple restrictions. 

So, I showed up at the Jackson Police Station at 7 on a Friday night and met Officer Timothy McClain, the police officer I was assigned to ride with. We spent two hours patrolling my neighborhood and going to calls. He also answered a lot of questions I had (a running theme about me). 

While I had interacted a lot with the police in the past, this was different. I saw the world through their lens for just a couple hours. How do you interact with people on a call? What does the note-taking process look like? Why does it seem like they’re just riding around? 

I think those two hours were eye-opening for both of us. I saw how much he cared, and he saw how much I cared. 

I don’t think we ever expected to be sitting across the table from each other, recounting one of the most heartbreaking recent events in Jackson, only a couple months later. 

Relationships between media and law enforcement are not always good. A lot of times they are strained. But because of the genuine relationship I built with Officer McClain and others through this program, I felt comfortable enough to ask the hard questions, and he felt comfortable enough to answer them.

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