‘Don’t want police in face, obey law’
QUEENSTOWN — Queen Anne’s County NAACP Branch 7024, which renewed its charter in 2016, held its second annual Freedom Fund Scholarship Banquet at the Bay Country Moose Lodge in Queenstown Saturday afternoon, April 29. The keynote speaker was Col. Stewart W. Russell, chief of the Forest Heights Police Department, located just outside southeast Washington, D.C.
Russell, a law enforcement officer with 40 years experience, 35 with Maryland State Police, who also regularly heads security for Dr. Ben Carson and his wife during their annual scholarship banquet in Baltimore, was blunt in his presentation.
“There needs to be an understanding between the police and community. If you don’t want the police in your face, don’t violate the law! It’s that simple,” Russell said. His statement was followed by applause.
Russell said, “Police need to understand their community, and the community need to understand the police. Police have so much to contend with. Respect what they do.
“Most police have a special calling in their heart — to serve and protect the people of their community. Lots of great things police do are totally ignored by the media. I do know that a lot of people appreciate what we do.”
He added, “I teach my officers: observe, react, adjust. The public needs to understand, if you get pulled over in your car, the officer doesn’t know if you are police friendly or not. He trained to watch your movements in the car as he approaches the car. Keep your hands on the top of your steering wheel and don’t move. Tell passengers in your car to keep still, If as he approaches, you appear to be frantically moving around, he doesn’t know if you’re reaching for a gun, trying to hide something, or what?”
In other words, your movement inside the car can be an alert something is wrong.
Russell took the microphone from the podium and walked out into the audience as he spoke. He also used humor, telling several funny stories.
“I’ve found there are two types of wives. One, who when you come up to the window of the car, says, ‘He was speeding, what’d you pull him over for?’ and the other will say, “Officer, I told him to slow down! I’m glad you pulled him over.’ What type wife do you have?” he asked, drawing laughter from the audience.
He also said, “You know, police officers have heard it all when people get pulled over for speeding. The one excuse heard the most is, ‘I’m sick, and was driving myself to the hospital.’ Whenever I’ve been told that, I say, wait a minute, let me call you an ambulance, I don’t want you being sick and running into someone else. Suddenly I hear, ‘Oh no officer! I’m feeling better now!’ It’s amazing how well someone gets so quickly.”
Russell had a document to hand out to help educate the public following his talk. The document was titled “Citizen’s Guide to Rights and Responsibilities.” It listed such topics as “If Stopped For Reasonable Suspicion,” “If Stopped For Probable Cause,” “How To File A Complaint,” “If Arrested Or Taken To A Police Station,” “You Should Never” and “If You Are Given A Ticket.” The document covered the basics of how to conduct yourself in different situations.
Following his talk, Russell was thanked and presented a plaque by local NAACP Treasurer Phyllis Brown.
Former educator Willie Pauls presented the Freedom Fund Community Achievement Award to lifelong Queen Anne’s County resident Charles Emory “for outstanding dedication and service above and beyond the call of duty to the community.”
Two $1,000 college scholarships were also presented, one to Ahmad R. Gray, who is attending Coastal Carolina University majoring in Mathematics, and the other to Brieanna Robinson, who is attending University of Maryland Eastern Shore majoring in Business Administration.
The program began with the audience singing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson, and ended with the singing of “We Shall Overcome.”
Dinner for the banquet was by Helen Todd Catering of Centreville.
Part of the large audience that attended the second annual Queen Anne’s County NAACP Branch 7024 Freedom Fund Scholarship Banquet, Saturday afternoon, April 29, at the Bay Country Moose Lodge, in Queenstown.
From the left, Queen Anne’s County NAACP Branch 7024 Treasurer Phyllis Brown presents keynote speaker Colonel Stewart W. Russell, chief of the Forest Heights Police Department, plaque following his presentation, Saturday afternoon, April 29, at the Bay Country Moose Lodge in Queenstown. Also pictured, Branch NAACP President Eric Daniels.
Retired Queen Anne’s County educator Willie Pauls, left, presents lifelong county resident Charles Emory a plaque from Queen Anne’s County NAACP Branch 7024 for “outstanding dedication and service above and beyond the call of duty to the community” during the annual Freedom Fund Scholarship Banquet.