As a young black man growing up in L.A., Ryan Tillman was harassed by cops. One time he was singled out just because he wore a hoodie.
Years later, he became his department’s “officer of the year.” Today, he runs an innovative training program that helps police and the communities they serve find common ground.
Watch his inspiring story of transformation in this short video:
“Instead of just looking at what somebody else can do better, we all need to turn the microscope on ourselves and say ‘what can I do better,'” says Ryan.
That principle motivated Ryan to start Breaking Barriers United, where he:
- Trains police to “help people see the human being behind the badge”
- Speaks in schools to help students understand what police go through
- Hosts community workshops – bringing police and communities face to face, giving them tools to build understanding and trust with one another.
A Growing Movement of Healing?
You may be thinking: Ryan’s just one person. Can he really make a difference?
I was surprised to discover dozens more “one persons” exist around the country, with similar missions to help police and communities find common ground.
- LivingUNDIVIDED in Cincinnati – it holds events where law enforcement and community members talk openly about challenges and tackle their differences
- HOPE for Prisoners in Las Vegas – it helps formerly incarcerated people reenter the workforce, while building bridges between them and police officers
These groups – and there are many others – are part of the Heal America movement.
Supported by Stand Together Foundation, Heal America empowers local leaders who are fighting racial injustice with love, redemption, and unity.
Violence tends to go up in the summer, so Heal America just launched the Summer of Healing to help efforts like Ryan’s scale and engage more people in these solutions.
Check it out: Are any of them near you?
This work to build trust and win-win relationships is key to building stronger, safer cities.
Ryan says all of us have a role to play – including you:
“I challenge you today: Lead with love, lead with empathy, and lead with respect… that’s how we change our country.”