CALDWELL, Idaho — Corporal Patrick Lewis is a proud member of the Caldwell Police Department. He spent eight years on patrol, and he’s now a school resource officer at Elevate Academy in Caldwell. He also teaches criminal justice there and is now working to bring kids from all backgrounds together.
“I've been with the Caldwell Police Dept a little over 10 years now,” Lewis told KTVB. “Elevate Academy is a very unique school. It’s for at-risk youth.”
Corporal Lewis is currently the only Black police officer with the Caldwell Police Department. He says he’s often asked what that experience is like, but he'll be the first to tell you - he feels right at home there.
“It's a family,” he said. “No one treats anyone any differently."
As a school resource officer, Lewis knows he’s in a position to shape and impact lives for the better. He takes that responsibility and privilege very seriously. He said he knows where these kids are coming from, and he cares about each and every student.
“If some of those kids are having trouble, I like to go to their homes, or let their parents contact me, and do home visits to sit down and talk with the kids,” Lewis explained. “To open up and let them know who I am. I want them to look at me as an example because you can come from a tough childhood, and grow up and be successful and help other people if you choose to do that."
Lewis just recently had the chance to speak to a group of young kids at a local football camp and said it’s all about unity.
“My message to them was this - 'Whether you know it or not, this is where it starts. You learn respect for everyone. Not one gender, not one race,'” he said. “You guys are out here having fun, at the end of the day you're not saying, 'Hey, I'm playing with white kids, Black kids, Hispanic kids. I'm playing with my teammates and we're coming together with one common goal.'"
Lewis has watched what's going on in Idaho and around the country with the BLM movement. He is in a unique position as a Black man, and a police officer.
“I've gotten to see both sides of it, and my biggest takeaway is everyone, not one person, not one race, has to step forward,” Lewis said. “It’s going to take everyone coming together to be cooperative, and not get into screaming debates. That’s just going to cause everyone to shut down."
He said it's important to him to be a role model, for his students and his family.
“When I have my son and my nephews ask me questions because they see what's happening on the news, it's very important to me to let them know you're going to have hard times, you're going to have hardships, you're going to have people who look at you differently for the color of your skin,” Lewis said. “I’m here to let them know this is how you need to carry yourself. If you want them to know who you are, if you want them to know you are a strong person inside, this is how you carry yourself. You have to teach them that young.”
Lewis said it's all about communication, respect, love, and unity. That’s what he is teaching the future generations, and that’s where he says the solutions to the conflict we’re seeing in America right now can be found.
“At the end of the day, it's going to come down to who is willing to sit down and have that tough conversation, and actually come together and move forward together."
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