‘I swore to protect and serve': CMPD officer bridging divide between police, protesters

'I swore to protect and serve': CMPD officer works to bridge divide between police, protesters

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In the middle of Charlotte protests earlier in June, a calm and powerful voice emerged from an officer who’s been on the force six years.

One of the challenges during those protests was bridging the divide. It seemed police were on one side and protesters were firmly on the other.

>> Channel 9 wants everyone to meet one person who is working hard to bring those sides together and keep them there. Janine Davis, of V101.9 Radio, is on a special assignment and introduces CMPD Officer Jasmine Nivens.

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Growing up in Charlotte, Jasmine Nivens wanted to be an astronaut -- until she got to high school.

“I job shadowed a homicide detective for part of my junior exit project, and it was on that day I realized I wanted to go into law enforcement,” Nivens said.

Jasmine Nivens
Jasmine Nivens (WSOC)

She attended North Carolina Central University, majoring in criminal justice with a clear plan.

“I already knew I wanted to come back to Charlotte to serve and protect the community and city that raised me,” she said.

But it’s a community now divided, and Nivens, who is nearly six years into the job, has found herself right in the middle of that divide.

As part of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Constructive Conversation Team, she’s been face to face with protesters as tensions have run high, trying to remain a voice of calm.

“I’m hurt, same way you hurt, like you hurt, like everybody out here is hurt. We all feel the same pain,” Nivens said at one of the protests.

Officer Jasmine Nivens
Officer Jasmine Nivens (WSOC)

“I understand, however, their frustration,” Nivens said. “People who don’t like police don’t know the person behind the badge, the person wearing the uniform, so my family, they know me. They know my heart and that I go out there and do the very best I can and that I treat all people with respect.”

Nivens said what she’s seen on the job has taught her not to take things for granted, such as food or a supportive family, because too many people in Charlotte have neither.

She knows a lot of people are hurting and that many of them simply don’t see police as an ally.

“I don’t take it personally because in this profession you can’t take things personally, because a lot of times what people see is this uniform and this badge. They don’t see me. They don’t know me so if I took everything personally that people said to me, I probably wouldn’t still be here,” Nivens said.

Janine Davis, of V101.9 Radio, is leading a special conversation focused on race and police. Nivens will be one of the guests.

>> “Talking about race and police reform” airs June 24 at 7 p.m. on Channel 9.

“The community in and of itself depends on its officers to do the right thing. That pressure is there. But as I’ve said numerous times, I’m gonna do what’s right. And I, you know, whenever I put my hand on that Bible, I swore to protect and serve to the best of my ability, and that’s exactly what I’m gonna do,” Nivens said.

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