Ironically, the 2001 Cincinnati race riots—in which African Americans vented their anger against police—confirmed to police officer Albert Brown that his way of encouraging young blacks and police to get along was working.
Since 1992, Brown had been using entertainment and educational computer programs at a community center as a way to prompt kids to get along with police. “When I started the program, kids were throwing rocks at police cars,” notes Brown. “But, kids have a tendency to mimic people they like. By me participating with them in Computer Cops Class, they learned to like me. I knew that if you kept bringing up a stimulus—in this case, police and police uniforms and police cars—that it could be generalized to other police officers. Anyway, that was the theory. The true test came with the riots in 2001.
“During the riots, I worked the streets out in Millvale. We did not have one incident related to the riots. It was like two different sides of the world. That was my ultimate confirmation.”
Brown is now retired after 27 years as a police officer, but he’s still working with computers, kids, police and people throughout Greater Cincinnati. He’s executive director of the Mallory Center for Community Development, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for all residents, with a focus on youngsters and their families.
Brown says he loves helping people and the reason he’s able to do it is because of encouragement from Xavier. When he was 25 and working at the post office, a Xavier professor became his mentor and helped him earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1974, which led to a master’s degree in corrections in 1982. In 2008, Brown became the first African American to earn a PhD in philosophy at the University of Cincinnati.
“Without the attention and patience of the Jesuits and nuns at Xavier, I never would have gotten through,” says Brown. “Xavier took time with me. They had patience with me and they helped me in every way possible.”