The Good Stuff: Your Voice - Behind the badge

Bridging the gap between community and police with a hug

Your Voice: Behind the Badge

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - A conversation is defined as a ‘talk between two people’.

And a Shreveport police officer shows us how a hug can be an incredible conversation starter.

"I was getting off early that day," begins Sgt. Daniel Denby, a 20 year veteran of the department.

Sgt. Daniel Denby with the Shreveport police department
Sgt. Daniel Denby with the Shreveport police department (Source: KSLA)

Denby says he joined other officers on May 31 for the first of what has been multiple rallies and protests through downtown Shreveport.

Even though the protesters’ message, such as ‘stop killing us’, was directed squarely at white police officers, Denby says, “There was no animosity directed at us at all. They were a calm group of people, expressing their views and thoughts.”

Protests continue in Shreveport and cities across the country in the wake of George Floyd dying while in police custody in Minneapolis.

Sgt. Denby says he's as upset as the protesters over how Floyd died.

"It is an insult to honest police officers around the nation," affirms Sgt. Denby

On that Sunday afternoon, the protests that began in front of the Shreveport police department marched to the front steps of the Caddo Parish Courthouse.

A protester leads hundreds in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse
A protester leads hundreds in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse (Source: KSLA)

That's when Sgt. Denby says the peace slowly began to unravel.

"I noticed part of the crowd turn their attention toward the monument," he continues, explaining that a female had climbed the barrier around the Confederate-era monument.

"To me, it sounded like she was trying to instigate a problem."

Protesters gather in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse
Protesters gather in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse (Source: KSLA)

Sgt. Denby quickly escorted her away from the crowds.

But he says moments later when he turned back toward the crowd, he noticed another young female.

"She caught my eye. She was crying, tears rolling down her face."

What happened next was captured on numerous cell phone videos as well as by two KSLA news crews covering the event.

Sgt. Daniel Denby hugs an emotional protester during a May 31 rally in downtown Shreveport.
Sgt. Daniel Denby hugs an emotional protester during a May 31 rally in downtown Shreveport. (Source: KSLA)

"I wanted to make sure she understood, we're not here to hurt anybody or stop the protest," Sgt. Denby says he first told the young lady, who seemed emotionally overwhelmed by what had just happened.

That’s when Sgt. Denby decided to console her, giving her a hug as she continued to cry.

"We're all here together, ok," Sgt. Denby could be heard saying as he delivered that hug.

It's a moment Sgt. Denby hopes others will see as hope during the ongoing protests over racism and accusations of police brutality.

"God puts us in places where he can work through us," Sgt. Denby continues.

“We want to bridge the gap between community and law enforcement so we can all work together to make things better.”

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