Offhandedly, I mentioned a gang case from six years ago to city councilman Andre Dickens and he not only knew which one I was talking about but could name the murder victim.

We met at the food court of Greenbriar Mall last week for a conversation about violence and politics. I’ve long found the mayoral candidate to be prodigiously intelligent, willing to show up anywhere and an in-the-weeds detail thinker, befitting a Georgia Tech-trained engineer.

Atlanta is a system in need of repair. I find him keenly aware of the burdens of leadership. When you’re the kid who made it from South Atlanta, you’re playing for more than your own bank account: we all know what we think about people who disappear after finding success.

Surrounded by mall goers, we nerded together.

This interview has been edited for clarity, length and to ensure neither of us sound dumb, sensitive soul that I am about such things. (As an aside: there’s nothing that will lead you to question your own intelligence faster than having to listen to yourself speak. I use the word ‘like’ more than a 17-year-old valley girl at a job interview.) It’s a long read, but you’ll find few things more comprehensive.

George Chidi: I am here with Andre Dickens. I am a Greenbriar Mall. And it is awesome. Like, we got people here.

Andre Dickens: Right? Like, people live in our city and they go to different malls and everybody thinks they all go to Lenox, or to West End, maybe. Greenbriar Mall is the first mall I’ve ever been to in my life growing up in southwest Atlanta. This is where I got shoes. I got clothes for Easter.

GC: How far away from this mall did you grow up?

AD: I grew up about a 12-minute car ride. But I always rode the bus here as a kid.

GC: So, I’m here to talk about crime. When we think about malls and crime, it’s Lenox and the 15-year-old kids, which is unfair, right? I think a lot of the discussion about crime is unfair. But let me ask you, what do you think is causing the increase in violence in in Atlanta?

AD: I mean, you’re right about it. You think about 2018; we were down in crime. In 2019, we were down in crime. And of course, the beginning of 2020, we were down because everybody was in quarantine. And then somewhere around mid-year, we just started having this spike in crime.

GC: Third week in May.

AD: Third week in May. And it started happening as the governor allowed things to open up in the state. So, people started coming to the city from where their cities were closed, they wanted to have some relief, have some fun. They came to Atlanta, our clubs and bars and strip clubs. Everything was open. Our malls opened for certain hours, and people were spending money.

I remember talking to a young group of kids that had been incarcerated. And they were out on this program called Next Level Boys Academy. And I asked them, ‘What’s up with the crime?’ This was about August. And I said, ‘What’s going on? Why are we having all this crime that’s picking up?’ And they said, ‘There’s so much money on the street — somuchmoney on the street. We see everybody’s getting their stimulus, they’ve got their unemployment, but they also are flashing it. Because all these guys are coming in from all these other places with all this money. They’re spending this money around at strip clubs and going to the mall, buying all this stuff. And we can see it on Instagram. So, we’re just watching all this money. And you know, I want to try to get some of it.’

GC: So, I’m not crazy when I think that there’s influence from Philly and New York and DC and Charlotte and whatnot coming into Atlanta because the clubs were open: this is not unreasonable. I don’t think that’s all of it.

AD: No, not all of it. But it’s definitely a significant part of the reason why we just started having this uptick in crime. These were people that did not know each other, being shoulder to shoulder in an Atlanta club, a guy from St. Louis and the guy from Chicago, and their crews beefing, you know? They’re fighting each other as strangers in a strange city that’s telling you go have fun, because no place else is letting you have fun.

GC: Who understands what you just said? You’re saying crime went up because we had all this outside influence. Some people get that already. We don’t have to tell them that. Right? But some people do not understand that.

AD: Right? See, the people that that get it are the people who actually live and thrive in the city and actually go around the bars of the city and enjoy themselves. They saw what happened. We were on quarantine. And they were watching individuals go into the club.

I remember we were all trying to figure out how to put more restrictions on the bars and clubs, to the point where we were saying ‘Hey, we’ve got to go in there and get the fire marshal in there to say it’s too crowded.’ We were going in there trying to, you know, get people to do a PSA about wearing masks and all these things. And those things just were falling on deaf ears because of course these were people from other places. They weren’t listening to our PSAs. They came to Atlanta to have fun. The people that don’t get it, I think, are individuals who are looking to paint the city with a broad brush of being lawless.

GC: I agree with you. I think a lot of that’s coming from outside of Atlanta. I think a lot of it is Republicans who are looking for an angle in 2022. But the noise is out there, and I think it’s going to interfere with the actual solutions to problems. So how do you cut through that?

AD: Well, you’ve got to be data driven, and actually look at when things happen: what was time zero, why it happened, and then go from there. I mean, this is a crime spike right now. And people are afraid that it’s the new normal. How you know it’s not going to be the new normal is because of leadership. And so, when we stand firm and say we’re going to get rid of this crime, we’re going to make sure that we do all that we need to do to make sure that it’s not just going to be stopping it with a hammer today, and then it shows back up as excessive use of force tomorrow.

If this pendulum swings too fast, too much, then we’re in a chaotic state. We have to be able to do this in a responsible way, and do the things that prevent crime from happening in the first place. Pathways out of poverty: pathways for you to be able to have things for them to do. Also, more police presence. But not this hammer down. Some people want to see a cop just basically go push people around and tell them get off the street.

GC: I’m worried about that. I’m glad that you get this. Let’s get into the weeds here. Let’s say you’re in your first six months, and you’re looking back, you’ve got 180 days in office? I’m sure crime is going to be at the top of the agenda because it has to be right now. Right? What do you do?

AD: First year, you’re looking at a crime situation that the President of the United States is talking about to multiple city leaders. Even the state of Georgia and our Speaker of the House and our governor are trying to weigh in on it. Our mayor just said $70 million. We’re all talking about ways to solve crime. And I think this is the first time that I’ve seen in a while where people are actually talking and saying, we’re all trying to solve a problem together, hopefully.

In the first six months, we’re going to work hard on stopping our crime with police presence with partnerships, working together to get the guns off the street. That’s finding the illegal gun sales, and taking care of these issues as they arise, putting an end to this crime spike. Then we can get back to a place to where now we’re aware that we do have some gangs and to be able to do gang prevention and intervention. We have to work to be able to just roll back there. People have to have a different set of choices that they can make.

We will have more officers. I’m going to make sure that we have 250 officers in the first year and 400 over the next two years, to get to the level that we want to be at. But, these officers are going to be trained in how to de-escalate and how to do conflict resolution. I don’t think we need anybody to come in here with this machismo, an ‘S’ on their chest to be a crimefighter and solve it all in a day,

GC: On the on the face of it, if the state is saying they want to send some state police in. I don’t want to dismiss that out of hand, because there are things that state police actually can do, that any cop could do. But you’re right: I’m not expecting crisis intervention training from a statie. I don’t think that they’re going to know the Greenbriar Mall. Their intent is to send a platoon of state police officers to a place like this? We’re looking at civil rights cases, at some point.

I’ve got to imagine that the folks at the state understand that. I actually don’t think they’re dumb. I think that they want to say that they want to do this, because their own constituents expect them to Do Something®. It’s this call of Do Something™. I’m watching all of the other candidates, and they’re all putting up plans and stuff. But there’s a political element to this absolutely, of doing the right thing, regardless of what the pressure looks like. Articulate that for me.

AD: What you’re talking about is not allowing the immediate to mess up the ultimate. The immediate is: we have to stop crime now. But the ultimate is that everybody should have a great quality of life. And so, a great quality of life means to be free from crime, to be safe. But it also means to be free from excessive use of force, or, you know, to feel like you can’t walk down the street without being profiled. Essentially, we have to manage the immediate, and that may mean pain. I’m glad state patrols are here to help us with our street racing challenges, even as we use the Department of Transportation to put up barriers that keep people from doing donuts on certain streets. We also are using all the tools we can to stop street racing. Meanwhile, in the city police, we still don’t chase inside of the city. And there’s a very good reason for that because people are walking back and forth across the streets. And we’ve seen folks get hit hurt or killed by chasing somebody.

GC: Right now, the state police are at minus three for the number of deaths they have prevented. They’ve caused three more deaths than they’ve prevented as far as I can tell, because they’re chasing. I was surprised when I saw that, despite Atlanta’s no-chase policy. There’s evidence against this practice. Hearing your numbers, telling me you’re after data drive solutions: what does that look like to you?

AD: I’m calling for an assessment of the last two years of every shooting that we know about, every aggravated assault, and of course, that includes murders, to be able to see who did the shooting? What was the age? What was their profile? What were their conditions? Who was the victim? What was the age profile? Where did it happen? Those things.

Being an engineer and a technologist, I believe that the data is going to show us some things. It’s going to show us some causation, some conditions that say these things happened because of certain opportunities that were there and certain opportunities that were missed. And what I mean by that is, just like Chief Bryant said, a lot of the murders that have happened were between people who knew each other. Some of them were happening in a house or at a barbecue or in a hotel room. Something went bad. Somebody got into a disagreement that turned into a fight that turned into a shootout.

It’s difficult to police inside of somebody’s house or to police inside of someone’s hotel room. What we have to do is put in conflict resolution solutions, to be able to say, ‘everybody needs to chill out.’ Police need to de-escalate crimes. When we are doing non-emergency crimes, we don’t need to go in shooting. We might need police that are not even, you know, sworn officers to be able to deal with homelessness and mental health cases and public drunkenness. We don’t necessarily need a sworn officer with a gun.

So we can de-escalate. But I think we all need to learn how to de-escalate. But we have a murder increase. We have a homicide increase in a lot of these cities, including Atlanta, besides the slider crimes at gas stations. The rest of this increase is where we always have been with break ins and those things.

GC: One of the interesting things here: you’re right about the conflict resolution stuff. There’s a 30% increase domestic violence cases. So, when you talk about conflict resolution … yeah, people are pissed off when they’re shooting each other. Right? But when you say ‘I want to get some conflict resolution stuff going,’ it sounds … soft. Do you know what I mean? There’s a contingent of the public who says ‘I want somebody with a gun, who’s ready to stop somebody else with a gun,’ right? Because that’s what I keep getting told is going to work, right? But if two neighbors are shooting at each other, there’s no way you can get a cop in between.

AD: So what happens is, somewhere in here, your mayor has to be Boss Hogg-tough on crime. These advocates can go out here and say all these nice things about programs. Some portion of the public is like, ‘No, you’ve got to put a hammer down and put a cop on every corner and just start locking people up.’ And, you know, I think that we do have to acknowledge that we’re in an emergency situation with these murders and homicides. We have to stop that. People feel afraid to go to the gas station at night, or go to the grocery store. This is very real. And we really have to deal with it, and call it what it is. We have a spike right now. We have to take it for what it’s worth and deal with it and solve the problem.

But at the same time, you can’t go so far that you make everybody a criminal. You end up failing to recognize that something happened to the world during COVID. Domestic violence went up. We had Asian hate. The Anti-Defamation League said that crimes against Jews went up during this time. All kinds of statistics are up across the board, about people mistreating one another and sometimes even mistreating themselves. We have to put resources in those areas as well.

We can do both. We can say we’re going to solve this crime, and we’re going to help people learn how to de-escalate and live a nonviolent – a more nonviolent – life. We’ve done it before and we can do it again. These things have happened before. Right here, right now, we have to deal with the crime that we have, and make people safe; make sure they feel safe.

GC: Here’s a problem. The relationship between the public and the police department is a little frayed. The public is still wrestling with the Rayshard Brooks stuff. Not everybody, but enough people are; enough to affect crime numbers. I think the police are also still wrestling with the Garrett Rolfe charges. There’s still a bleed out of cops to other departments. And all of this speaks to a really, really difficult political problem for whoever ends up being mayor.

How do you turn that triangle, this three-way relationship back into something that’s reinforcing and positive? Tremendous political talent is necessary in order to get this done. Anyone who thinks that there’s some magical solution and you snap your fingers is wrong. I’m curious about how you would approach that.

AD: What you’re articulating is: how do you support officers? Really, really support them while still holding them accountable?

GC: Right.

AD: The goal every day is to go out there and say, ‘I trust you to do a great job. You’ve been trained, and we’re going to retrain you and retrain you. We’re going to equip you. We’re going to support you. We’re going to give you technology. We’re going to basically make your beats not be these enormous beat sizes. We’re going to make sure that we support you in every way, mentally and health-wise and physically. But we’re also going to hold you accountable.’

I think the best way to do that is to say that as mayor, I want you to support me, but also hold me accountable. When I do right, let’s support each other. When I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do for the public – for you as employees and citizens of Atlanta – hold me accountable. To say that I’m not king. That I’m not going to turn my back on the public or go hide away in a closet. I’m going to be right here on the ground level, like I’m at Greenbriar Mall right now, like I’m at every other part of the city. I’m going to be able to take the criticism and not snap back and tell people that they’re wrong when they are thinking that, ‘no, this needs to be improved.’

And the officers take an oath to do the same thing, to be serious about their job. I actually haven’t heard of a cop that that had the blue flu. I know people said they did …

GC(interrupting) It happened. It happened.

AD: … and maybe totally it must have happened. But the ones that I talked to – and I talked to dozens –

and they’re like, ‘no, I showed up to work and I did my job according to my oath.’ But the way to make sure that that doesn’t happen is by supporting them with pay. We gave them the largest raise ever under the Bottoms administration and the city council. We gave them the biggest raise ever. That’s showing support.

Right now, I’m finalizing the development of cadet housing. You know, Atlanta has never had police cadet housing. Right now, you can go down and you will see housing under construction that will house 38 officers on English Avenue. They’ll be able to go to the grocery store, walk through the neighborhood, go to the barber shop. Cadets were sleeping in their cars, or sleeping on couches, because cadets don’t make that much money. It’s 26 weeks of rigorous training. They are living with grandma, on couches with girlfriends or whatever. And now they’re going to have dignity. I did that work with Invest Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Foundation and a bunch of money from all these sponsors.

GC: I talked with the Atlanta Police Foundation about this. It’s interesting. I didn’t know they were putting it on the English Avenue. What a culture shock that’s going to be. Let’s talk housing, because I think that housing issues are fundamentally tied to this increase in homicides and an increase in violence because of the domestic violence. People couldn’t get away from a domestic violence problem the way they normally would, because … COVID.

But add to that the fact that like the housing prices are exploding in Atlanta: $500,000 houses I could walk to from Greenbriar Mall right now. Crazy. It’s crazy. I hope and I wish that there are Black people who are getting some money out of this. But I worry that they’re really not. This city hasn’t done a whole lot on housing. Period. What do you want to try to get done? And notice I say try because we have to talk about the political roadblocks to whatever you do propose. What do you want to do?

AD: Yeah, I mean, I’m with you. You know, I was born and raised here in Atlanta, and I’ve seen these prices go up to point to where nobody — nobody ­­– in my neighborhood could afford to live in the neighborhood right now. But I grew up in Adamsville. To rebuy into these neighborhoods, you’ve got to make so much more money. To be able to just stay in the apartment that you were in every year, they’re going up by $100 a month or $100 more a month. Or more.

We know that over the past 10 years, housing costs have gone up by 50%. But the average income of the average service worker, a working-class person, only went up by 10%. So, no matter what was affordable, it is no longer affordable now. Affordability has just gone away. Affordability is fleeting. Part of my plan is to build or incentivize the preservation of 20,000 housing units over the next eight years. To do that, it’s going to rely largely on AHA [Atlanta Housing Authority], that hasn’t built anything for families on any of its properties in the last two mayors.

GC: Yeah. No kidding. Yeah. AHA has been a problem for me. One of two things that irritate me. AHA and workforce development.

AD: Hear, hear, on both of those. And these are agencies that really are charged with taking care of some really important things for people: where they live and how much they can earn. Really, affordable housing is about housing, but it’s also about affordable. The housing part is about what you actually live in. The affordable part is about your income. So AWDA – WorkSource Atlanta – is supposed to help you with your affordability, your ability to earn more income. And that’s why I do what I do with TechBridge is how to get people to great wages. But the housing part is about building housing, and also making sure that there are incentives in place for landlords to set aside units for working class people.

GC: All right. 2,500 units a year, on average. Let’s say it takes $100,000 a unit to preserve affordability. Is that a fair guess?

AD: Well, because what I thought of was to do a $250 million bond …

GC: Yeah, I guess it would.

AD: … and to have a dedicated revenue stream, something that every month, every day, money is coming in.

GC: Seattle was looking at that. They tried it. They passed the Amazon tax, essentially. And then the powers that be walked that back almost as quickly as it went up. It passed. Amazon’s lobbyists got involved, and they repealed it, like, within a month.

AD: Oh, gosh.

GC: That’s how much political power that “industry” has. Atlanta has one significant blessing, and that its economy is distributed. There’s no one big dog who can say ‘do this or else.’ You know, Home Depot can’t just declare something. Nor Coke. Coca Cola: there was a time when they could. They can’t right now.

AD: Which is good for us, to be able to have this diversified corporate business set so that we are not beholden to anybody.

GC: There’s some value, though, in having the business community in your corner. So how do you get there? Are you hearing from them? I’ve got to imagine they’ve at least reached out to you.

AD: Yeah, well, I’ve reached out to them. And they’ve reached out to me, and I’ve been talking to them for eight years as a city council member. With the business community, most of the ones that actually open their mouth and talk to you, they’re really interested in how we make an ecosystem out of Atlanta that works. They want us to have a great relationship with the school system. They did not like all that fighting that was in the past. They know that when they bring employees to town, or they raise up and grow employees, that they want to make sure that those employees can send their kids to the school system and not feel like they have to always dance around the school issue.

They also want to make sure that we have public safety, that everybody feels safe. And that our roads work, and that all this rapid transit works. One of the reasons Microsoft is going right there next to the Bankhead MARTA station is because they’re going to have a workforce that they know will likely not want to be car dependent. It’s great to get people using our transit system to go to this huge office complex at Microsoft. I think that the business community, they get some parts of it.

Also, know that they are not as patient with how social solutions occur. Sometimes, civic and social solutions aren’t linear. They’re not immediate, not ‘Okay, we just put $100,000 into somebody’s hands for a training program’ and immediately somebody comes out and they get a job. Sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn’t. There’s all these life factors. We need more support. We need more things to make this an ecosystem.

What I’ve been saying to businesses that are coming here for the last few years: I’m not only interested in you building buildings in Atlanta, but I want to know how much Atlanta is in your buildings. How do we get our employees to work in your business? How do we get us to be contractors in your business? I don’t need Microsoft importing talent from the west coast.

GC: I worry about that. We don’t need that. Morehouse has one of the biggest computer science departments. Something like one in ten Black computer scientists are coming out of Morehouse. It’s not like we don’t have talent here.

AD: Right.

GC: But when you look at corporate Atlanta, it’s very white. It’s very white. The average income for a white household in the city of Atlanta is over $80,000 a year. For a black household it’s under $30,000 a year. When I’m looking at this crime stuff, there hasn’t been a white homicide victim in the city of Atlanta this year.

AD: We don’t have any white low-income neighborhoods. No white low income NPUs (neighborhood planning units). There’s not a single one.

GC: I mean, this divide is fueling the homicide rate. Like, yes, every city has had a spike in homicides, there’s been an increase in violence overall. Atlanta’s is larger, I think, because our inequality problem is larger. We have the biggest inequality problem in the United States.

AD: When I say we don’t have a white low-income neighborhood, I wish we didn’t have a Black one either. You know, you only have a 4% chance of making it from poverty to prosperity in Atlanta. A 4% chance. And this is why when you see a kid playing basketball or football, you say only 1% of people make it to the league, he’s like, ‘You only gave me a 4% chance to begin with, you know? So, I’m going to do this thing I actually like to do.’

That’s why you have to expand their horizons. Do the thing you’d like to do, which is play sports or rap or whatever. But also, here are some other projects: STEAM stuff, some acting, some creative work, all that. Let’s get them involved in everything. You have to maintain this idea that we are all tied together. The quality of life that we deserve is both on the north side and the south side and the east side. The whole city deserves this quality of life, which means a focus from birth all the way to the grave on how to go about giving people opportunities. We have to have the government run better. When you run better, we’ll find new savings. We’ll finally be able to invest in these programs that we all talk about.

Where we are right now, all of our social programs come from philanthropy. We’re always asking somebody that has made a bunch of money to give back one and a half percent of the money that they made, so that we can try to do something with it. And that’s good. I’m glad we have these very wealthy people around here. But very few of them are coming from the communities that we’re trying to serve. These communities don’t see themselves as full agents of the city. We lack agency and ownership of the city. Individuals that might live and come to this mall or might go to the schools in this part of town: they don’t feel like full agents when they walk through the rest of the city. So then they lash out. You see some people lashing out.

GC: Right? I think that’s some of the Buckhead stuff. I was talking to some kids in South Fulton. And it’s just like you say …

AD(together with GC) That’s where the money is. There’s nothing like Lenox Mall and Phipps in the whole southeast, except for maybe something down in Miami. There’s nothing in a three-hour drive or four-hour drive. Everybody comes here. Anybody within 45 minutes. They come in, they come into Lenox Mall all the time, because it’s a free place to go look at cool stuff, cool people. You might get a glimpse of a celebrity. You get to see all this new merchandise. And it’s free. You just get to walk through. I mean, when I was a kid, I would go to Greenbriar. I would go to Lenox. It is just free places to walk around when you’ve got $20 in your pocket. You can go get something to eat.

GC: How old are you now?

AD: Forty-seven.

GC: Okay, so I’m forty-eight. When we were in our teens, it was the height of the mall. That’s what you did. I’m just literally looking around surprised today that there are people at a mall. Malls are dying. And with them dying, there’s a whole section of the economy and employment that goes away with the death of retail. The fact that Lenox has been able to hold on is remarkable in and of itself because of its cachet.

Let’s talk about the Buckhead thing, just for a second. There’s this group. It’s not all of Buckhead, or most of Buckhead. It’s Bill White, and a bunch of folks he’s managed to grift who are like, ‘yeah, let’s break away from Atlanta.’ Crack kills. But here we are. What do you tell him?

AD: So, I was actually thinking about reaching out to him just to kind of say, ‘hey, you’re obviously somebody who has an opinion. I have one as well.’ I’m running for mayor to try to put the city on the right track. It’s not all of Buckhead. I talk to enough people that say they don’t want to have a city of Buckhead. I don’t want to start a new city. I want to live in the city of Atlanta. I don’t want to live in that Buckhead. This guy, Bill White: the Buckhead he’s describing? I’m afraid of it. The people that live there right now, they’re saying, ‘I don’t want to be a citizen of that Buckhead.’

So, no. There’s plenty of people that want to stay. But everybody up there for the most part says they want to feel safe, and they want to feel heard. And that’s similar to what everybody across the city said: they want to feel safe, and they want to feel heard. And I think the feeling heard part is missing.

There was a significant number of people in Buckhead over the past year and a half or two that did not feel that they were being heard by the leadership or the city. They were shouting, ‘Hey, come save us! Come help us!’ And people didn’t show up for them and bring them any kind of attention, didn’t sit in their offices, didn’t come to their apartment association after an incident happened in the parking lot, didn’t come up there and say, ‘I’m just going to sit an officer right here for a few hours. You know I’ve got a beat to manage, but we’ll figure out something so it doesn’t come back.” That kind of thing.

These clubs that are operating at three or four in the morning after hours, these “restaurants” without a kitchen.


AD: Wait a minute! You’re not a restaurant! You don’t have kitchen! You can’t keep serving drinks after a certain time. You. Are. A. Bar. You got to close up, man.

GC: I have got to tell you, I don’t want to criticize the mayor because I’m not standing in her shoes. And it’s easy to throw shade. I hate being that guy. But as I’ve been talking to people around the city, one of the major complaints is just as you said: nobody was showing up. People would tell me, ‘No, the mayor’s never been to my NPU meeting. No, I’ve never had a conversation with her.’ NPU leaders, who never had a conversation with the mayor.

There’s a Cory Booker kind of leadership, where you move into the apartment complex when you see a problem until it gets fixed, right? Like you get a snow shovel when it’s snowing. And … some of its performative …

AD: Right. Some of it is performative.

GC: … but some of it reflects your values, right? How would you demonstrate this?

AD: Well, you know, you just gave me a good example. During Snowmageddon that happened in 2014, there were school buses stuck on ice. And I remember going out there with a shovel. I was probably a city council member for three weeks at that point. I’m shoveling in to help this bus driver get the class unstuck. I’m out there with shovel and rock salt and all this stuff. And the news was out there. Remember that?

GC: Yeah, I think so.

AD: It’s easy to remember because I had on this big puffy yellow Georgia Tech coat. People said ‘you don’t look like a city councilman, you know?’ Maybe if I went out there in my suit.

You’ve got to be hands-on as mayor. You have got to actually be available to the public and accessible. Go to the crime scene. You have got to go to some crime scenes every now and then just to get the feel of what those officers are dealing with and what these victims are dealing with. The people that are around the crime scene – just the psychological effect of knowing that I’ve been to that gas station that just got shot up – am I going to go to that gas station again? You’ve got to go out to the crime scene.

It’s just as important as going to the graduation ceremonies. You’ve got to see it through. And when you see the graduation, you know the hard work that you put in all year is important. When you go into the crime scene, you see these guys all standing out there counting up shells and thinking about the shell casings and trying to figure out their trajectory and where they went out and all that stuff. You’ve got to see it through.

Being hands on is extremely valuable. You know when you were growing up and doing your math problems, the teacher says show your work. Show! You just don’t do this math problem and say the answer is 32. You’re doing crazy differential equations or something, you’ve got to show your work, people. Some of it is performative. I don’t actually live in that Photoshop world. I go do my work, because it’s necessary. But you have to show your work.

And I mean, I stand on my work, because for eight years, I’ve been out in the community. I go everywhere all the time.