Teen makes video promoting peace between police officers, community

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Darius Ledbetter knows there’s good police officers patrolling the streets. As a 17-year-old black male living in a predominantly white area, he said the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile took a “big toll” on him. But, he knows in his heart the good ones exist.

“Really everywhere you go there’s going to be good officers interacting with good kids, whether the media shows it or not” said Ledbetter during an interview at the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. “I just thought it would be great to embrace the opportunity to show people who this stuff actually happens.”

Ledbetter said after he watched the videos of Sterling’s death, he knew he needed to do something to help ease tensions. So he grabbed his camera, called up a few friends and officers and created a video about the positive interactions law enforcement and everyday people can have.

“All these videos would go around Twitter of these police shootings that would happen with African-American males and the whole time you’ll see people saying like ‘This needs to stop’,” said Ledbetter. “We don’t need to do anymore hashtags.”

The group got together with Ledbetter at KDPS and brainstormed ideas about the best way to show positive interactions. He decided to record what he grew up seeing everyday: officers and citizens talking and hanging out with one another. Together, the name of the video, was shot and edited all in one day.

“I just thought it would be great to embrace the opportunity to show people who this stuff actually happens,” said Ledbetter who’s parents are law enforcement officials. “ There's always this going on. We never always see it.”

The KDPS posted it on their Facebook page and it gained almost 50,000 views and over 200 shares in just 24 hours. Ledbetter said the response has been overwhelming. People he doesn’t even know are complementing his work and efforts to promote peace in the community. He said his goal was to show the world that officers are human too.

“I know I'm happier when I see a good story at the end of the news, rather than something sad,” said Ledbetter. “If we can make more things like this happen, I think the world can definitely start to become a better place.”

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