Riquel Jefferson

Officer Riquel Jefferson is an 18-year veteran of The Memphis Police Department. A mother of one, Marauel, she has a big heart and vision to match. Jefferson earned a Criminal Justice Degree from Shelby State Community College (now Southwest Tennessee Community College) and hit the ground running. The daughter of retired MPD Sgt. Kenneth Jefferson, she is the Neighborhood Watch Coordinator for nine MPD precincts. Memphis struck gold with Jefferson, whose television-watching portfolio reflects her affection for “New York Undercover,” a 1990’s hit drama series, where most crimes were solved in less than 50 minutes with a smooth soundtrack to match.

Kelvin Cowans: Liaison for the Memphis Police Department precinct leaders of the Neighborhood Watch Association, sounds busy yet intentionally effective.

Officer Riquel Jefferson: Sure, I’m actually the coordinator for this station, which is the Raines Station, and my job also includes me making sure that all coordinators are on the same page. We meet regularly and share and compare what is working or is not working in our individual areas.

KC: Memphis speaks at least 20 different languages, as far as way of life to a particular area. So each of you must have your hands full.

Officer Jefferson: This is true and each officer has groomed (himself/herself) to speak that language. One thing we’ve done here at this station is started partnering with ministers. We’ve found that the answer is really in the church. They have all the answers as they know that God answers all things. So when we come to them we find out the problems.

People take their problems to the church. They go to the pastors and talk about everything. So partnering with them allows us helpful information on what’s going on in the neighborhood. This brings about useful information for us to do good with. For example, he may have a guy in his congregation that’s in a gang and wants to get out. We step in and do our best to help.

KC: Does it bother you to arrest people?

Officer Jefferson: Yes, it does. Most of the time I don’t have an issue with it because I like to talk and I wear them out on the drive downtown. I’m like, “You know your momma didn’t raise you like this and wait until she hear about this. You know you wrong.” And they’ll usually be quiet and remorseful. Some of them have told me to, “Please hurry up and take me to jail so I don’t have to hear you talk. Go the short cut way!”

And I don’t take offense to it because some of those same people will see me later and come give me a hug and say, “I got a job now” or “I just got married” or “It’s good to see you, please be safe out there.” …And that makes me smile and happy. So, again, yes it bothers me sometimes … (but) I do witness the turnaround of their lives a lot.

KC: I don’t care what crime statistic poll they come out with, they stick Memphis in the top 5, like all the time; true or not, they stick us in there. Here is my magic wand, what do you get rid of?

Officer Jefferson: Polls!

KC: Ha! OK, good one. What’s the second thing you get rid of? True victory?

Officer Jefferson: Obstacles for our youth; all of the things that stop them from being successful. Our youth are not born corrupt. They learn to be corrupt. Many things are put in their way that causes them to see things in a way that is not true. We have our Leadership Program, Leaders of Tomorrow, which dates back to the 1990’s and it has been awesome in this community. Still, you have to fit into the criteria. Many of them don’t because they are just trying to live, to make it.

KC: What are the kids that are in this program exposed to?

Officer Jefferson: Some of them have never been to the zoo. So we took them to the zoo. The zoo! On other trips they have been exposed to professionals – lawyers, the mayor, business owners, etc. This has had a profound effect on them. We just keep trying to reach them.

KC: How do you wind down from a stressful job like this? Where do you go, what do you eat, what do you listen to?

Officer Jefferson: I leave town. I hit the road and I’m out of here. I turn my Jill Scott or Sade up and I’m cruising. I pray a lot and I do a lot of reflecting. I watch a good share of TV and grew up watching a couple of law enforcement television shows. “New York Undercover” was my favorite. Right now I’m really into watching boxing. I keep up with those twins, Jamall and Jermell Charlo, right now. They’re really good.

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