White suburbanites care about city, too

When community activists make claims that too many city police officers are from areas outside the city are they rushing to judgment? Here's my true story along with a little of my Baltimore family history.

Upon becoming another young white suburban police officer assigned to the predominantly African-American Western police district in the early 1980s at my own request, I'm sure that it appeared to most that I fit the racially-biased stereotype of another out-of-place suburbanite in the big city. I graduated from Baltimore County's Towson High School in 1977.


In fact, my grandfather D.L. Gordon owned and operated a custom men's clothing tailoring shop at 1527 West Baltimore Street during the Great Depression. I was aware of this fact when I worked that area of the Western in what was by then considered to be a part of the high crime "ghetto" of the south central western district. My roots gave me a sense of belonging as this area is a part of my past.

Later in my career, I was assigned the affluent Roland Park neighborhood in the Northern District. In 1935, my dad graduated 9th grade from Roland Park Junior High School which was a part of my area of responsibility in the later '80s. My dad went on to graduate from City College High School around the same time that future Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer did. More roots.

Not to mention the fact that I grew up in Sector 2 of the city's Northern District in an apartment complex off of The Alameda until age 11 (when my parents bought their home in the Baltimore County neighborhood of Rodgers Forge just north of the Baltimore City line). My elementary school years were spent in the city's Leith Walk Elementary school.

So, in fact, I and my family were products of Baltimore for these and other reasons, not the least of which is my Uncle Yale's perpetual endowment to his alma mater, the University of Baltimore (The Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences and Gordon Plaza are named for him).

Although I now reside in West Virginia, I continue to care deeply for the success of the city of Baltimore as evidenced by the book I have written, "Still Seeking Justice: One Officer's Story." I have recently learned through social media that many other retired and present day Baltimore police officers share in similar experiences and family histories to mine and will always care about Baltimore, too.

This is not about race at all to me, To those who see things in racial terms, please don't judge me, my family's or others' commitment to the city. We surely care more about the present and future for the city of Baltimore than does a Californian and outsider such as Commissioner Anthony Batts due to our roots and our past.

Joel E. Gordon, Masontown, W.Va.