(Kelvin Cowans takes readers inside the lives of Memphis and Shelby County Law Enforcement officers. Just as a neighborhood should not be judged by the actions of a few bad apples, neither should Law Enforcement agencies. In partnership with the new Community Police Relations Project, the New Tri-State Defender and its "Good Blue" column are here to share in-depth and inspiring commentary on a weekly basis with the community. Our goal is for the community to see that the only difference between them and good police officers is the Law. This week's focus is on Memphis Police Department Officer Kharyssa Pye of the Ridgeway Precinct.)
If anyone has a reason to fear the site of a Memphis Police Department squad car it's me. Doing this interview was the closest I'd ever been to one without actually being placed into the back seat. I actually earned every trip they ever gave me and that's something you'll hardly ever hear anyone say. I used to call their squad cars "bat mobiles" like Batman's car, because you couldn't out run them. Their motors brimming as loud as the growl of lion, they were indeed power under control.
As I interviewed Officer Kharyssa Pye of the Ridgeway Precinct, I had different feelings about those "bat mobiles" that were heading out of the drive way. It wasn't about me. It never was. My run-ins with the police were about the law. They were heading out to protect the city – the same thing they were doing years ago, even before my perception changed.
Kelvin Cowans: Officer Pye, could you tell me the ranking order of The Memphis Police Department?
Officer Kharyssa Pye:: OK, you have director, deputy director, chief, colonels, majors, lieutenants, sergeants and patrlmen.
KC: Cool, I never knew that. Tell me, what do you do away from the badge? I understand that even when you guys are off, you're still under oath to preserve life. So what, I mean, fun activities when you're just being Kharyssa?
Officer Pye: I enjoy spending time with my family. I like going to the movies, and I like going to the race track a lot down in Byhalia, Ms. I like to just hang out. I'm from Olive Branch Miss., (and I) graduated Olive Branch High School in 2001. But it doesn't take much for me. I like doing country stuff.
KC: Do you drive the race cars?
Officer Pye: No, I just watch.
KC: Are you sure?
Officer Pye: Yes.
KC:: What if I told you that I had a photo of you going 100 [mph] in a 55mph zone?
Officer Pye: I'd say that somebody photoshopped the picture, because I don't drive those cars.
KC: I don't have a picture. I'm joking. I was just checking. What are some of the things that you're doing in the community?
Officer Pye: Collectively, as a precinct, we gave out back packs this past year when the kids started school. I'm not sure what we're going to do this year, but we're going to do something. We like to stay heavily involved with the kids. It's not an easy thing because there are social roadblocks at times between us and the community, and we both have to tear those walls down.
KC: What are some of the things you hear?
Officer Pye: It's simple, some people like the police and some don't. We have to push past that. It's sad but everybody is not going to like everybody. Still we have a job to do. I have to be accountable for me. This is my career. I look forward to moving up the ladder in my field. But no matter where I move up to, I want to always be looked at as Officer Friendly above all of that.
KC: You seem to be completely community minded. I'm sure that CPR (Community Police Relations) is happy to have you with them.
Officer Pye: I hope so. I know I'm happy to be a part of that team. I'm the Neighborhood Watch Coordinator for the Ridgeway Station, and truthfully, it's all about working with the community for us. We meet with the citizens of the Ridgeway Community every month at the precinct, and that's when they have the opportunity to voice their concerns about their communities and about us. Sometimes it's hard to take, but hey, it comes with the job. We also have Apartment Managers meetings here once a month. These managers are from all of the apartments in our area, and they share their opinions and concerns about what's happening in their complexes. This helps us out tremendously and allows us to do our jobs even more effectively. Your neighborhood drug dealer may think we don't know they're doing something illegal, but we're finding out. So we know, and we (are) coming.
KC: That's a really nice squad car you just pulled up in. That motor sounds so good.
Officer Pye: Thanks. You wanna take a ride?
KC: Nah, I already have before.