by Adrian Hughes
Last Friday, February 6, 2015, youth leaders of the Inner Harbor Project met with Lieutenant Steve Olson to discuss the new policies pertaining to weapons in the downtown area. I think it is a great thing when Baltimore City officers take time out of their day to answer questions that they could really brush aside. He started by explaining what constitutes an illegal weapon but he also came to learn why we think it’s necessary to carry weapons. His willingness to hear our side of the story was truly inspiring. He explained why the new rules were needed and the middle ground he was willing to meet people on.
This was all great, but the thing that I will remember most is how he was able to connect with us on a personal basis. Many of us have had unpleasant experiences with law enforcement, but if you walked into the room you wouldn't have been able to tell. The fact that everyone was able to look past Lieutenant Olson and see Steve Olson was truly a sight to behold.
We asked Lieutenant Olson what positive things officers do for the community. He told us stories of many officers who spend not only their time but their money to help Baltimoreans in need every day. I was amazed, thinking to myself how everyone is so quick to judge officers by what they hear from the media and other people, but they rarely get information themselves or take into account the good things that is actually going on around them every day.
The truth is there will always be two sides to a story; make sure you hear both of them before you pass judgement. One last thing that will really stick with me was when he was asked by Shawna about his views on police brutality. I will always remember his reaction. He made it very clear to us that he takes the oath of protecting the citizens in his care very seriously. He continued to say that he believes every officer that breaks this oath should be held accountable, kicked out of the force, and prosecuted.
This was not Lieutenant Olson speaking; this was Steve Olson, the man behind the uniform. Lieutenant Olson once told me that I was a man among men, but he is truly a man among men, to come into a room full of youth armed to the teeth with questions ranging from many different topics and walk out with this same group of youth as if he was a friend they had known forever. This was truly special. These are the conversations that will bring a brighter day for not only our city but our nation as a whole.