Robert Carter: Reflection is Tough!

Robert Carter: police officer (retired) Photo of Robert Carter

“Reflection is Tough!”

Short Biography: I was born in Washington, D.C. in the completely segregated society of the time in America, schools, churches, etc. I had no non-black friends or classmates growing up thought-out high school. I am a retired police officer currently residing outside of Los Angeles.

The one exception of a white person in my life was “Pop White” a white adult who was the area newspaper delivery manager for the Washington Post newspaper. He was fair and gave me the recognition I deserved. Get along well with others!

As it turned out I had good work skills-I showed up daily-on time and always ready for work. I delivered newspapers in the dark before sunrise. On the non-school days – paper boys went to a neighborhood “Danish Bakery.” We ate the freshest, sweet pastries imaginable and often went to a local basketball court for some 3 on 3. I went over my route and collected money in the evenings. I always had money and was satisfied with my situation. I had extra jobs on weekends. Don’t dodge word!

During high school, I was on the school paper staff eventually becoming the editor in chief during the first half of my senior year. I resigned when I was elected senior class president. I tried out for football and even had a practice in uniform. But, I had to be available to watch over my younger brother and sister after school, so my athletic pursuits came to an end. I was a member of the JROTC for three years and ended up becoming a Captain and company commander. Be well directed and self-motivated.

I was fortunate to be surrounded by a positive group of friends – including my parents and their friends. I don’t recall any anti-American talk even during this time of segregation. I don’t recall anyone in my circle going to jail. My family and friends were hard working blue collar folks and some even owned homes. 

Out of the environment came a young man with a certain amount of confidence. I thought I was up for anything and as smart and capable as most. I was self-disciplined, which could be why I choose joining the Marines and going to boot camp at Parris Island instead of college. I then chose to become a police officer and attended the LAPD academy. I moved from the east coast to Los Angeles where I knew no one. I sought out challenges in my life! They paid off hugely with good and I developed a good reputation and achieved financial success. I say Challenge yourself! Get out of your comfort zone!

My circle of friends widened as I got older, but several high school buddies are still in my life. The civil rights movement caused the United States to become a more welcoming place, doors began to open. I joined along with other progressive blacks on the LA Police department. We studied and took advantage of the new situation to take advantage of the opportunities now available to us. We became better paid and had greater influence. Choose your friends carefully!

During my career in the LAPD I attended LA City College (70+units), USC, UCLA and Cal State LA. I never received a college degree but I did receive academic skills and knowledge. I am a member of the UCLA alumni association. In addition to the obvious value of education; I have found that my association with UCLA, US Marine Corps and LAPD has provided many entrees into conversations, with a diverse cross-section of Americans. As a result of being a state employee at a fairly high level, a retired cop and my good credit opportunities opened for me. I was able to buy my first BMW on something resembling a handshake from a northern California dealer. Have a good reputation and good credit!

I have served on the Board of Directors of a major nonprofit the Boys Republic and was an officer in the last Kiwanis Club in South Los Angeles. I am an original member of ABLE (Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives). I am an active member of the Black Marines organization (Montford Point Marines). I am the only Black docent at the Gene Autry Museum of Western History. I was the Vice President of the Autry Docents Association 2001-2015. There are other affiliations. Be a joiner. Be active!

I have many friends from my affiliations with groups such as the Sierra Club (hiking), Marina Del Rey (biking) and the casual acquaintances from various related activities. I attend several monthly luncheons for retired State employees (mostly Black managers), and two groups of retired police officers (mostly white). For several years I was an active member of Holman United Methodist Church’s Men’s organization.

Stay involved, reach beyond your community, the only boundaries are the ones you place on yourself.

Good luck, Robert Carter

Last modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 11:01 AM