- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - After Michael Brown was shot to death by a police officer this summer in Ferguson, officers say it’s been a tough time to be on the police force, especially if they’re black.

Police Sgt. Harry Dilworth, 45, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/YWL8FH ) that black officers have heard racial slurs shouted by protesters of the same race while on duty.

Dilworth, who is black, said officers don’t say anything back when insulted, which may cause the protesters to think they’re unemotional. He said that’s not the case. Officers tune out the slurs while they’re working and talk about it afterward.

“We feel, but we can’t show that because as soon as we say something we will be all over the news,” he said. “I can’t so much as spit on the sidewalk right now without someone throwing it on social media.”

Among the more polite insults he heard while on duty is “sellout,” he said. Some have taunted him with the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture developed by protesters whenever he is responding to ordinary calls, he said. Dilworth said he can’t remember the last time he responded to a call without his actions being recorded by someone with a cellphone camera.

Dilworth said he wishes he could retire, but feels a draw to stay in the community he’s served for 21 years. Dilworth is the only black supervisor and one of four African-American officers on Ferguson’s police force of 53. Two-thirds of the city’s 21,000 residents are black.

Brown, who is black, was fatally shot on Aug. 9 by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white. After the incident, Dilworth said one of the officers he supervised was mistakenly identified on social media as the shooter. He ended up moving his family to another state. Other officers also moved, giving up a $100 a month incentive to continue living in the city.

Dilworth also praised Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson, saying he supports how Jackson has handled the aftermath of Brown’s shooting in Ferguson.

“No matter what he says and does, he’s going to be scrutinized,” Dilworth said. “That kind of weight has got to be unbearable.”

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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