This week's FOJ(Friend of Jewel) is Rasheen Peppers. You may recognize him as one of the stars of the A&E Channel's Manhunters Show. He is a deputized US Marshal and a detective with the Newark, New Jersey Police Department-what I would call a true hero. Each time I talk to him, I am impressed with his humble character and his commitment to his community.
Rasheen was born and reared in Newark. His mother married into a family of law enforcement officers when he was a toddler. His grandfather and uncles were well respected, decorated police officers. From a child, he thought law enforcement was such a brave, admirable career--"to face your fears, so that others can live fearlessly."
He and his wife have chosen to raise their family in the same community that he polices. He thinks this allows him to be held accountable. He doesn't want to become one of those officers whose careers catapult them out of the hood and then they forget where they came from.
He's received numerous accolades, but the ones that mean the most to him, come from the citizens that he protects, including an anonymous nomination for America's Most Wanted All Star 2009. Although he didn't win, the nomination and subsequent votes from all over the world warmed his heart.
In a time where law enforcement is one of the most highly criticized professions in our society, Rasheen wears his badge proudly. He says that what policing needs most is community cooperation. So many times, information is withheld from law enforcement because there is no confidence in the justice system. He does realize that sometimes citizens are wary, but encourages those who have information about crime in their communities and can't come forth, to contact him and he will get the information to the right person. He also admits that the most challenging aspect of his job is dealing with internal politics on the job. Officers have to "play the game" or risk reassignment.
Despite this, Rasheen aspires to move up the chain in the Department, while keeping his community in mind. He'd like to open a quality gym in his hood, that would include a tanning room, pool, jacuzzi, and spa. He'd give free membership to underprivileged families to help combat heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol, which run rampant.
Again, this a true hero. And, as with every FOJ Friday, the purpose is to expand your circle. I'm introducing you to my friends, so that they can become your friends. You can reach Rasheen Peppers by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He's also on Facebook. Connect.