One day in 2012, Captain Jacques Gilbert had met a young man named Tracy Stallworth. Stallworth was a skater who had gotten in trouble for skating around town many times. Captain Gilbert had received a call on noise complaint, and upon arriving at the house, Gilbert met Stallworth. Gilbert told Stallworth how he couldn’t skate there, and Stallworth asked, “Then where can I skate?” At first Gilbert had just told him that he needed to figure that out. Yet shortly after driving away, Gilbert recalls a change in his thought and says, “God kept telling me to go back, go back, go back, go back.” So he did, Gilbert spoke to Stallworth again and said that they were going to do something about this. They had planned to meet at Chick-fil-a at 5:15 p.m. that Monday. Gilbert was there early, and at 5:15 p.m. Stallworth had not shown up, but five minutes later Stallworth and another skater showed up on skateboards. They were trying to come up with ways to raise awareness about skating.
This led to weekly meetings at Chick-fil-a; at one meeting there were twenty-five skaters! They decided to start hosting skating contests and events. Sept. 22 of 2012 was the first event, Gilbert thought no skaters would show up because he is a police officer. To his surprise over one hundred skaters showed up. Not only was the skate group hosting contests and such, but also they were also doing community service. Gilbert had no intentions of telling several people about trying to raise money for a skate park; in fact he only told one person. He had received a call from Councilman Scott Lassiter one day who was asking if he could sit in on one of the meetings. Gilbert at one meeting had said, “There will be a park soon!” He had then regretfully thought to himself, “I shouldn’t have promised this, what if it falls through?” Through countless efforts and ideas, one million dollars had be donated to build the Apex Skate Park. Yet, to Gilbert’s surprise, it is 2015, and Apex has a beautiful skate park. Gilbert says he does not take credit for this. That credit should go to the town council and the parents who were raising petitions and doing surveys about having a skate park.
On Sept. 11, 2015, Capitan Gilbert had received a call from the White House. Gilbert was teaching a class at the time, so a note was left on his desk by someone at the station for him to call back. Not realizing the importance of the call Gilbert had decided to put it off for a bit, until Chief Letteney had told Gilbert what the call was! Stallworth having received the call had hung up, thinking it was a prank. Gilbert did not realize Letteney had nominated them for the “Champions of Change” ceremony. On 21 Sept. 2015 Gilbert and Stallworth went to Washington D.C. to take part in the ceremony. Gilbert was accompanied by his wife and two children and Stallworth was accompanied by his girlfriend, mother, and friend’s mother. Gilbert said the experience was beautiful, once in a life time. Going through the security, he could not believe he was there. Gilbert had gotten to shake vice president Joe Bidens hand and take a picture with him.
Even though no physical award was given, Gilbert says “Seeing the kids smiling faces at the skate park is reward enough.” He had made a very strong point during the interview on how strongly he believes in reconnecting with youth. Gilbert says there needs to be a change on both sides. “They once judged me because I wear a uniform and carry a badge and I judged them for wearing stylish clothes and carrying a board.” He expresses how people need to realize how not all police officers are the same, and not all skaters are the same. He believes we need to build trust between the youth and the police; it may be hard to do but is not impossible.
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