For Brookline police officers, the past is present tense

Boston-03/24/2017-  Members of the Brookline Police Department visited the Museum of African American History to learn about local black history. Deputy Superintendent Michael Gropman, a veteran of 29 years, walks past a photograph of Frederick Douglass, an African-American social reformer and abolitionist, whose large photo in on display, along with many Douglass photos and artifacts.  The BPD has had some discrimination lawsuits rise up and they have been working on this visit as a new kind of training. John Tlumacki/Globe staff(metro)
Deputy Superintendent Michael Gropman looked at a photo of Frederick Douglass at the Museum of African American History. –John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe

“Look at this,” Brookline Police Chief Daniel O’Leary said, gesturing toward the gift shop at Boston’s Museum of African American History.

A replica of a vintage sign dated April 24, 1851, advised “Colored people of Boston, one & all” to not converse with “watchmen,” as police were known then.

O’Leary, a tall man in a trench coat, shook his head with a bit of awe, a bit of sadness.

“It’s the same thing today,” O’Leary said.

What he meant is that police officers are still feared.

So he decided to teach his officers a bit of history.

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