The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz 241 Pugh Hall Technology Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 352 846 1983 Fax The Samuel Proctor O ral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness accounts of economic, social, political, re ligious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by research scholars, students, journalists and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, SPOHP recommends that researchers refer t o both the transcript and audio of an interview when conducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Oral history interview t ranscripts available on the UF D igital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the ori ginal oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim d ocument of it. The transcript is written with careful attention to refl ect original grammar and word choice of each interviewee; s ubjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a later final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and format I nterviewees can also provide their own spelli ng corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information about SPOHP, visit http://oral.histor y.ufl.edu or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. October 2013
FOS 005 Interviewee: Marquitta Brown Interviewer: Sarah Blanc Date: November 2, 2010 ! SB: Good afternoon. T oday is November 2, 2010. My name is Sarah Blanc and I'm here with Marquitta Brown, interviewing fo r the Florida Opportunity S cholars. Marquitta, could you just take me back to your childhood, what you remember, what's important? MB: Alright, well, I guess I can say I was born January 20, 1988. So I grew up in Miami, Florida. Always an area called Carol City preferably Dade County area I have three brothers: on e younger, two older. Played sports all the time I can remember. Every Christmas, it was either a police cop toy set and Matchbox cars, no Barbie dolls, none of that. I grew up with Mom and Dad, and I went to Carol City Elementary, Carol City Middle, Carol City High, so I was a little legend. Growing up at first it was nothing I can remember tha t was dangerous or anything until when I got into twelfth grade high school. I t was like everything th at I saw on the news that was fine, didn't happen around me. And then twelfth grade, it was like ever ything was life changing. F riends that I was sitting by, the next day they wouldn't be there, they had go t shot and killed at some party. S o twelfth grade for me was more like, alright, life is serious ; I need to get out of here. I didn't want to be there. I was very popular. Lots of friends. Eleventh grade, no, tenth grade, I started filling out applications for colleges. And I knew I didn't want to leave Florida, but I didn't want to stay too close to home either, s o Florida was the best choice. SB: So you knew you wanted to go there early?
FOS 005; Brown; Page 2 ! MB: Yes, definitely. I had good academics always. I was always at the 4.0, high ranking. A nd I guess I should go back to the thing that focused me on grades in school was alway s, I had a lot of domestic violence in my home between my mom and dad. O nce I probably got like middle school age, they would fight all the time. T hat kind of just made me feel like, that was my motivation basically. Just to get my grades, go a way to school, never come back home. That was the way I thought because most of the arguments would be about money, which, you know, most marriages are about money and finances and it was just like, I knew I wasn't going to ask them to send me off to schoo l, and that was the only way I was going to be able to leave. So in high school, I probably worked every summer I would at least have two jo bs a nd then during the school year I would have at least one job a nd I'd hav e to stop when sports started 'cause I' d always play basketball every season. And I even played softball one season, and bowling, just to stay away from the house I never wanted to go home just because of all the fussing and fighting and stuff. E leventh grade year, my mom left my dad and they got a divorce. T welfth grade year was really like, it was the best thing my mom and dad got a divorce, but it was kind of like everything changed and I was just like, I need to be an adult, type of thing. So, back to when I started applying for colleges a nd everything, I knew I had all the criteria and everything. Never been in trouble, never got any trouble, my grades was straight A's, nothing but good reviews, I had work experience, all kinds of stuff. And I was just like, I'm going to college. And the g oal once I got to college was, I'm not
FOS 005; Brown; Page 3 ! coming back home. I don't know if you want to know anything more specific about my childhood, I mean, but that's it in a nutshell. SB: So, were your parents strict about your grades? Or was it more a personal thing? MB: No, it was more a personal thing, very personal. They were always happy about it. I guess it was more so if I had brought home a bad grade, they would h ave got on me, like my brothers; they didn't bring home the best of grades. B ut with me it was more like they knew I wasn't bringing home anything less than a B, and even when I brough t home a B, I would cry. J ust literally cry my heart out. And I think when I got my first F one time, like, I would challenge every grade, and you know, the right way, an d my mom, she would always be supportive in that and make sure she came ou t any time I had a problem as far as that because she knew how serious I was about it. But it was never you have to make straight A's . b ut they knew. It got to the point where t hey wouldn't even look at my report card just because they knew what it was going to say. I mean, i t was straight A's. SB: So when you weren't happy with a grade, was it more like, I may not get what I want in terms of going off to college? D id that ever f eel like it was in jeopardy? MB: No, because I had already had a good foundation, but it was just, this is unacceptable. It was like me and the friends that I had in high school, we were all in competition. We challenged each other I mean, we would sit t here, get a math test, and race and see who finished first. And that was our way of motivating each other and keeping each other on top. So, when I got a B, it was like, okay I'm not going to act like this doesn't faze me because it should have been an A. I could have either studied more, or I'm looking at a problem like,
FOS 005; Brown; Page 4 ! what did I do wrong? I want to know exactly what did I do wrong, type of thing. And even the teacher would be like, h ey, you got a B! And I'm like, it's unacceptabl e. It's not right. It was never like I don't think it would have hurt me at a ll, but I didn't want it. SB: Did you have any teachers or advisors in high school that really pushed you? MB: Yes, Mr. Henry He was my criminal justice teacher, which I had met ninth grade. And he was actually the reason why I went to Miami Carol City Senior High School. C ause at first I really didn't want to go there cause I was like, o h, this school is bad and I want to go to a better school and everything, but bec ause of that program, that's the reason I ended up at Carol City High School. And I had him all up until my twelfth grade year He passed away that October, i n the middle of the year, s o that was hard. But yeah, he would push me. H e was always just saying something positive: I know y ou're going to be this. T o this day I wish he was still alive so I co uld call him back and be like, yeah, I'm a police officer now and w h atever, whatever. You know, but he wa s definitely always motivating. W hen I did a speech my twelfth grade year, because I was the president, the class president, and I basically dedicated my speech to him, and my close friend had passed away my twelfth grade year, Jeffery. And so i t was a go o d speech, too. Just thinking about it, it was a random thoug ht. But yeah, he definitely SB: Do you remember any highlights from the speech? MB: T he title of it was, "All Grown Up." And I also have a tattoo on my back that says, all grown u p.
FOS 005; Brown; Page 5 ! SB: Nice. MB: It was dedicated to our whole twelfth grade year, but I think like one of the quotes Mr Henry would always say was, i t takes a village to raise a child. And I quoted that in the speech and I really felt passionate about that because I felt like it did because when I was going through problems with Mom and D ad, it got to the point where I h ad built up so much anger and I didn't want to reach out and talk to my mom or my dad, just because I was a ngry at both of them. I was angry at my mom for not leaving and I was angry at my dad because of what he was doing t o my mom. So it was kind of like I don't want to talk to you guys. So I found comfort in my godmother, I found comfort in Mr. Henry as a male figure, and then I drew closer to my brot hers, and my friends I had some really good friends, but just thinking about all of that, it was just, this is the village that he was talking about. And even connections making out in the field, just by work ing and working and working through summer program s I had made so many connections, so many people that would write g ood references about my character, and my work ethics and everything. And to this day, I just feel like all of that just is what carried me along up to this point and it really does take a village to raise a child, to raise them up right, at least. SB: An d did any of your brothers try to go to college? MB: My little brother, funny story. [L aughter] Let me see, my second year here at UF, he was in the tenth grade. When I left, like I said, twelfth grade year, everything was just changing. People were tryin g to create their own gangs and stuff, and my brother ended up being the victim of some gang stuff, cause they were going
FOS 005; Brown; Page 6 ! through in iti ation, and they would just jump random people as they were walking home from school. So my brother and his friend walkin g home from school g ot jumped by at least five boys. A nd that day, I'll never forget I was just like, I kept begging my mom; let him come live with me at least for the last two years of high school. So she finally let him come up for a summer, that summer and he stayed with me for that summer. A nd he ended up p laying at a basketball program that I was coaching, and someone se en him and asked him if he went to school here, and it was like, no, he didn't. But he ended up being like a coach at P K Yonge, wh ich is a great school. S o Mom came up, we got him in, and he lived with me his eleventh and twelfth grade of high school. A nd he's now at Santa Fe and jus t because you know it was a too late type thing with the grades, so he's at Santa Fe trying to build u p the GPA. But he got recruited by some colleges for basketball and football, so hopefully he'll be able to transfer. SB: That's incredible that you could do that for him. MB: Yes. Well, it's so many things. Twelfth grade year, my friend, one of my close friends, her brother was standing like two houses down from their house, and some guys came by, drive by shooting, he got shot in the head and died. He was only sixteen. And eve n that was like, I hated the thought of it. And I was like, my brother. I can only imagine how she felt. And so, that's another reason why me and him, we're like this right now. SB: Do you guys still live together? MB: Yeah, he still lives with me now, yeah.
FOS 005; Brown; Page 7 ! SB: That's incredible. That's really incredible that you could do that for him. So, you started your applications tenth grade, and you sent them in senior year, correct? MB: Correct. SB: And did you apply to any other schools? MB: I applied to UCF, cause it was the Orlando area. It was always about the areas. So I think I applied t here, and I want to say, USF, cause it was Tampa, and UF. And that was it. SB: And you were set on UF? MB: Yeah, definitely wasn't going I didn't like Tallahassee for some reason I don't know, maybe it was just a little too far, or I don't know. SB: And do you remember when you found out that you got into UF? MB: Yes, Mike Powell, he would always come to our school, him and I think her name was Desea she still works I thi nk, in the Admissions Office too Yeah, they were at our school. T hey would always look at us like some of us were the top, I think it was like the Lion Scholarship as well ; the top 5 students, the top GPA s T he second time he came out, he was like, you're in, you're in, you're in, you're in. And, you know, we all thought he was playin g And I walked up to him, I said, are you serious? And he was like, yes, y ou have your acceptance letter at our little banquet that we do at the end of the year. And s ure enough, a t the little awards banquet, I had my letter and everything, and it was golden. It was cool. SB: And when did you find out about the Florida Opportunity Scholars? MB: I found out about that, I think that was the same time. Because I think the prog ram had just started. I think we were one of the first ones.
FOS 005; Brown; Page 8 ! SB: What year were you? MB: 2006. SB: Yeah, so y ou were . MB: H e was telling us about it, a nd he told us that we didn't have to sign up for it, it'll automatically look at our income and ever ything, and so once we were accepted and everything, he told us, yeah, you got the Lion Scholarship just because of the GPA thing, and you also get the FOS, and that we had it, that were accepted for it. So it was sweet. I think like three of us ended up qualifying for it, I want to say. Yeah. SB: So, did you start in summer? Or fall? MB: I ended up coming in the fall, a lot of my friends came up the summer, but I wanted to still work because I had already applied for an internship, and it was a paid inter nship. And I was like, you know, I'll save up the money and work, and so I came up in the fall. SB: Okay, what did you do the internship for? MB: Ah, l et's see. [L aughter] There was a couple of them. At the time, it was the City of Miami Gardens, the City C ommissioner, she was li ke, getting all the high school age d kids jobs and internships at different vendors or whatever. And I ended up getting a job at Call the Racetrack, which is where the horse s race and everything, but I was in the marketing departme nt there, so I did that for two summers. And then the next year I did the same program again, I ended up at the Miami Dolphins Stadium in their executive office, which was the behinds the scenes, behind the sports world. And it was excellent. It was someth ing totally
FOS 005; Brown; Page 9 ! different. I loved it. And I did that for two summers, and the summer right before I came to college. SB: This was all i n high school that you did that? MB: Yep. SB: Very cool. MB: And even after my first full year at UF, I was able to go back, that summer when I went home, and I worked at Miami Dolphins Stadium again with the same people. SB: So when you got to college, did you know what you wanted to study? Or did you have any kind of idea? MB: It was always C riminology. C ause, I mean, w hen I came in here, I got twenty four college credits from the criminal justice program I was tell ing you about, with Mr. Henry. Cause w e would go to Miami Dade and take classes. And so I got twenty four college credit s with that. UF took twenty one of tho se out of twenty four, and I stuck with it. There was never anything else I w anted to do but law enforcement and work o n juveniles as my ultimate goal. When I did go to UF, I did Criminology and I knew I want ed t o minor in Family, Youth, and Commun ity. Jus t cause it's youth SB: Did you have professor or class your first year that really impacted you, or did it take a while to find that? MB: No, my first year . it was like, I signed up for all the classes that my, what do you call it SB: Preview advisor.
FOS 005; Brown; Page 10 ! MB: Yeah, that he gave us. I was like, okay. And I got stuck in the class, it was Astronomy. And I didn't know nothing about dropping the class, nothing. But I stuck it through, and I ended up coming out with a C. I was very upset. But I mean, the re was nothing that I could do at that point, because I was like, I would try, I would kick my butt studying for that class. And I just couldn't get with it. So, that kind of discouraged me a little bit. I did good the first semester, but the fi rst semeste r was just all basic. I don't think it was until my third year I had a class, Criminal Law. I don't remember the professor's name. But that class itself was just, this is it, t his is what I've been waiting for. So it was just, everything about applying the law, and it made you really think. The tests were like he would give you a scenario a nd you would have to write out, like, break up the scenario, and write out what can you charge this person with, why would you charge them with it, and all of that it. I t really made you think, it wasn't like, A, B, C, D, bubble in so t hat was good. SB: And was the type of class where you could really argue your answer, or was there s till know the answer MB: No, that one was all on me, how I answered it. He would, you know, give us so many points on the answer. But I would nail it I would just nail it SB: Because you enjoyed it. MB: Yes, yes. SB: Did you live on campus your first year?
FOS 005; Brown; Page 11 ! MB: Yes. Best thing ever. My friend Kendra, we came from high school tog ether, and she's actually in a m aster's program here now. W e stay ed together our freshman year so w e helped each other out. SB: Where did you live? MB: Simpson Hall. The fifth floor. Stairs, no elevator. SB: Yeah, UF dorms are pretty hilarious some times. But, st ill, you're right in the middle of everything. MB: Yeah, it was. SB: Did you take part i n a lot of on campus activities MB: My f reshman year, no. I guess, like, I said, since I was new, I didn't really venture out. It was like, did my work, ate, slept, gained some weight. [L aughter] The freshman fifte en really hit. And then I learned that we had a nice gym, Southeast gym And that became my hangout. I would go there, play basketbal l, I mean, for hours and hours and hours. And then I found out about intra mural sports, and someone ended up finding me on Facebook, and was like, hey, do you want to join our team for flag football? So I'd go with these people I don't even know, I didn't even know a day in my life, and playing football with them. I was like, ok ay, I like this flag footbal l. I mean, I love football. I played football when I was little, nine and ten, with all boys. I was li ke the only girl that passed and everything. Then, of course, Mom's like, oh no, you can't play anymore cause you're growi ng, you know, you're developing, so I was like, alright. But yeah, so flag football, I started that, and after that year, well, that semester, because they do it different every semes ter, I got my own team started.
FOS 005; Brown; Page 12 ! SB: Co ed? MB: Co ed and women's. And then to ok the same team and played basketball, co ed and women's. And that was my life here at UF. And I enjoyed every minute of it. Became a legend. SB: Yeah? MB: After every semester, I would get drafted, like, hey, you want to play on our team? Do y ou want to play? Because it was like, for flag football, for co ed, to have a femal e quarterback, it was like . yeah SB: I hear that a lot, because those are the rules where you have to pass it to the ladies, and . MB: And you get like nine point s if the female scorer is, and vice versa, seven points. So I was getting drafted, like, every other semester, for every to urnament, and I would be like, y ep, yep, yep, yep. SB: So that was your favorite part about living on campus, was all the sports? MB: Yes. SB: And then, second year did you live on campus? MB: No, moved off, stayed with same person and some other of our friends that were from our high school. So that was, we stayed there for two years, and then I was done, so. Three years and I was done SB: Oh, so you finished in three years? MB: Yeah. SB: Okay. A nd you're married now? MB: Yes, I am.
FOS 005; Brown; Page 13 ! SB: When did you meet your husband? MB: I met him, let's see. He approached me freshman year, but I ignored him. [L aughter] C ause it was like a Facebook message, and I was like, how many guys write you i n Facebook messages? It was like, whatever. And one of my friends was actually dating his frat brother, plus he was a frat guy, and I was like, I'm not talking to football players, basketball players, no f rat guys none of that. We had a class my second year, at what is it Yoruba; it's a language class. And he was in there. But by that time, he had cut off his hair and everything. C ause he had like some curly dreads or something, and I was like, ahh, whate ver. But by that time when I seen him, he had like, low cut, clean cut, deep waves and stuff. And I was like, okay. And so he approached me again, and we started talking from there. So, that was spring semester, second year. Yeah. So, we've been together t hree years now. And he popped the question in July. We got married in August. And we're planning a big wedding for down in Miami in May. SB: Okay, so do you guys live together now too? MB: Yeah. SB: W ith your brother? MB: Mm hm SB: Okay. Very nice. Family oriented. So, when you are a Florida Opportunity Scholar, there are certain requirements, you have to do the career workshop, and a financial literacy workshop, did you have to do any of those?
FOS 005; Brown; Page 14 ! MB: Yeah, the financial one was actually pretty good. B ecause I'm still like, to this da y, this credit thing, they sat down and broke down all the credit stuff, and I'm like, oh, I don't care about getting a credit card. Now that I'm kind of grown, I tried to buy my first car, and it was like, well, you don't have any credit. I'm like, shoot, I should have listened. But I got my first credit card. And I still did get my first car, which I'm very proud of. 2008 Camry. SB: Nice. MB: Very nice. And that was even with minimal credit. So that was good. B ut yeah, th e financial workshop was good. Talking to I guess, like, when they were recruiting other st udents, every time they came in we would talk to them or we would take one and allow them to shadow us around the campus for a day and go to classes with us. S o that was always good I never had a problem with it; I actually enjoyed it. But I remember, I would always tell the students coming in, they would ask me, what's the main thing you think is important, or whatever? And I was just like, stay fo cused. That was my big thing, cause, I mean, me and my friends, we came here, maybe fifty of us from our graduating class came here, and I would see so many of them, like, fall off just from not staying focused. I mean, it's college, yes, I had fun. I had a l ot of fun. But I kept my GPA up. M y classes, I wasn't getting a lower grade than a B+, or a B, and that one C. [L aughter] Yes, that one C. So I would tell them t o stay focused. H ave fun, but stay focused. Like, I even joined a sorority my third year. I joined a sorority. And that was even fun. But I still kept my grades up. So it was all good and fun, but just stay focused.
FOS 005; Brown; Page 15 ! SB: So did you ever feel like you had a bad semester, or what your most stressful semester was? MB: My most stressful semester was my third year, fal l semester. Fall semester, third year. I took on eighteen credits, and that was only because I think I was missing some writing, cause you know you have to have so many writing SB: Composition. MB: Yeah and s o I just added a class on with that that entailed, just, you know, the composition credit. And what was it? I think it was like, African Literature or something and this teacher, it was like that semester I can r eally say I was just challenged. T he profes sor herself, she was very . unprofessional. Let's just say that. And she treated the class as if it was we were in high school or something. And I remember she asked me a question and I didn't know the answer to it and I told her, I don't know the answ er. So, after class, she's like, you better know the answer next time I call on you. I was like, excuse me? So I was like, last time I checked, I'm in college, and I didn't know the answer, so, I apologize. And she's like, see now you're being rude, and da da, da . so that just didn't go good. I said, ma'am, I'm going to walk out of your class now She's like, no, you can't. I 'm like, what? Are you ser ious? So, from that day on, she tried to call me out in class, and pick on me or whatever it was, but I'd ignore it. Didn't bother me. C ause, I mean, what more do you want? I'm here, I'm in your class, I'm taking my tests, I'm doing my assignments. I t's college, lady. SB: Do you think she was trying to help you, or just give you a hard time?
FOS 005; Brown; Page 16 ! MB: S he was tr ying to give me a hard time. I think because, I don't know, maybe she went and looked at my record or whatever. But the class was filled with mostly just freshmen, all freshmen. I was proba bly the only upperclassman, and I don't know what was the problem, but she challenged my grade and everything, and was trying to give me a C. And a lot of freshman got a C. And I remember I even got a petition towards the en d of the class becaus e we did a group assignment. And our group assignment was, like, on point. And she gave us, like, the lowest amount of points. And we got to see everybody else's presentation too. Even these students are like, y'all presentation was good, how many points y'all got? And we look at our points and their points, and basically we got th e points that we got because of me. And so, it was just a challenge. But, you know, I wrote my letters. I took it up the chain, to her boss, and the person that was over that program. But I ended up getting my right grade, which was a B, once I added up al l my points and everything. I mean, for me it wa s just, a challenge to say, hey, you know you gotta stay professional, and that's what I did. I think I was more professional than her. I had my e mails, my documents, I had everything documented. She gave me the wrong information on purpose for an assignment, and I had the e mail, so that, I took that to her boss, e mailed it to her boss. It was like, well you did, you know, tell her this It was like a book review, and we had to get all the books approved th at we were going to do. She approved the book that I picked. And when I turned in the assignment, it was like a fat zero, saying you can't do it on this book. So, I just printed out the e mail, say, she said it's approved. So, that was that. But that semes ter she just made it hard. Every
FOS 005; Brown; Page 17 ! other class was good. And I was working more that semester too. So that was the most stressful semester, just trying to work and do that. SB: Working a job? MB: Yeah, I was working at Southwest gym. SB: When did you start w orking for them? MB: My second year. My second year I worked there, and then my third year I worked there too Just working as a scorekeeper and as the building attendant, so that was good. It's not like I needed to work, I don't know, it was just in me. Like, not to bank on just my financial aid money like I just see so many people do a nd then they run out and then they're like, ahh And you know, you're in college, you want to buy stuff; you want to go out. So I was like, okay. My financial aid money will be for school and saved, and my spe nding money will be what I make, you know, working SB: And do you think you took that attitude on through t hese financial literacy classes or did you already have that attitude about money? MB: I had th at attitude about money, just cause you know, when I was telling you about my mom and dad. So I would work so I would never have to ask them for money. Even in high school. I paid for my prom, I paid for everything. Paid for my jacket, my senior ring, I paid for it all. SB: So did you also do the career workshops too? MB: Yes. I think we had to do like, so many points a semester but, yeah, I did that. My third year, they actually asked me to speak. I think it was at the museum. I ended up speaking that year.
FOS 005; Brown; Page 18 ! SB: W hat were you speaking on? MB: I guess it was all the FOS students, the new ones. And they just asked me to speak, or whatever. So that was good. And the pre sident was there and everything, so that was my first time seeing him. SB: Do you like speaking? It sounds like you have some experience in that. [L aughter] MB: Yes. SB: So when did you know that you wanted to work for Gainesville Police Department? MB: Let's see. So, senior year for me, my third year, and I was like, ahh, what am I going to do? I do not want to go back to Miami, although I knew for a fact I could get a job in corrections because my brother, he just kept telling me, let me know as soon as you graduate, I'll put you in, da, da, da. I'll make sure you get hired and get in the acade my down h ere. T hat was going to be Plan Z. [L aughter] The last plan. But I started thinking, I was like, I really want to work with juveniles. But then I was like, I did an internship at this place, Gainesville Wilderness Institute, and was talking to them I t was okay working out there. But then it was like, these people are only making $26,000 a year. I want t o do something I'm happy with b ut I don't want to do that. And then I was like, oh, I wonder how hard it would be to get on the police up here, rather than going down to Miami. And I d idn't want to do corrections, cause I did a tour through the jail, I was like, no. I just coul dn't see myself inside the jail working. And I started doing research, and I saw, oh,
FOS 005; Brown; Page 19 ! shoot, they got some job openings. So I hurr ied up and applied. And then, I had a few connect ions that put my name out there and the n SB: Through school? MB: Through my sorority. A much older sorority sister. S he was the retired lieutenant for the Gainesville Police Department. So she helped out, you know, talked to some people she knew. I had made a lot of connections. I was working over the east side of Gainesville at the summer camp Each summer I would work there and I met a guy, Mr. Jones; he's a pastor. He's the one that married m e and my husband So, him and I'm probably forgetting somebody. But either way, they kinda put my name up there. Gainesville Police Department, they do tryouts, so I did good at my tryouts, I guess. SB: What did you have to show them? MB: Oh, man. First, you had to do a written test, which, that's nothing. Then yo u have to do a physical agility: it's like a whole obstacle course. SB: I bet you were excited about that. [L aughter] MB: Yes. The only part that slowed me down was we had to dra g this fifty weight thing from her e to here. T hat was the only part that slowed me up. I mean, I' m not the strongest person. And plus it was muddy and I kept falling and trying to pull; it was crazy. But even after that part, we still had to sprint maybe 200 yards or so, or 300 yards or so. And as tired as I was, I still sprinted. And even in my interview after that, it was like, how did you still run that fast, even after all that? I was like, I don't know. [L aughter] Determination, or something. And after that you had to do th e oral board. And that was probably the most nerve wracking thi ng
FOS 005; Brown; Page 20 ! ever b ecause I was going in completely blind, not knowing what they were going to ask me, what kind of questions I was going to be asked, but basically th e questions were scenario based T he y give you a scenario, what would you do? And I'm like, man, I have no police experience. SB: Were they police scenarios? MB: Yes. And I'm like, O.M.G. I'm just basically answering off of common knowledge, a nd I'm just trying to think of certain things I h ad learned from college and from my high school program, you know the criminal justice field. What do you do? So, it helped, I guess cause I passed. They called the next week and they were like, you passed! T hen I took the psych exam, then a polygraph. I remember taking the polygraph. You know, everybody 's like, hold up! And I'm like, I don't have anything to lie about so I wasn't sca red. I remember one question they were like, well, you kind of jumped when we asked you about drugs. And I was like, real ly? So he's like, you ever done any drugs? I'm like, dude, out of all the questions you ask me I've never smoked a ciga rette. I hate second hand smoke. I stay out of the clubs because I don't like smoke. I've never done any drugs. So then he's like, oh, w ell, uh, what about steroids? SB: What? [ L aughter] MB: Yeah, I was like, you think I take steroids? SB: Maybe it was that sprint. MB: I'm telling you so. That was funny. But yeah, I was just like, out of all the questions, you're not going to get me on drugs. I've never done dr ugs, ever. But it was good. A fter that, I knew I was hired. I got in an academy that was like six
FOS 005; Brown; Page 21 ! months long. And after that you d o four more months of training, riding with other officers. That was nerve wrackin g cause every night you know you're getting judged by another officer. But after the first night with a new of ficer, it was always like, okay, I'm relaxed now. T hat was good some good training, very good training. And I went solo. Which is, you know, you ride by yourself. I got my own police car now and everythin g, so. I guess they trust me. [L aughter] SB: Do you have a Charger? MB: No, I have a Crown Vic B y next year, all the officers should have a Charger. But for now, they issue them out by se niority, so I'm the rookie. I am the baby. SB: But the Crown Vic is classic. It's the classic police car. MB: Yep. But I love it. Honestly, every day I go to work, it's like . I mean, you do n't know what's going to happen. All you know is it's going to be something where you're gonna have to help somebody and you hav e to put somebody to the ground. You don't know. SB: Have you had to? MB: Yeah. Oh, yeah it's fun I even got sca rs. I got scratched up by a fema le. She had a crack pipe on her and she didn't want to go to jail. SB: I guess not. MB: Yeah, so she scratched me up. She ended up being HIV positive and everything, so I had to get tested, and everything was negative, but i t was still scary SB: Yeah, absolutely. MB: It's like, y ou risk your life every day O ne officer, he asked me, what do I think? What's my mindset when I'm out h ere? Because I mean, it's scary. P olice
FOS 005; Brown; Page 22 ! officers, we put our life on the line, pretty much. But I like to think about it as, if I walk out of my house, or even if I'm sitting inside my house, my life could always be on the line. Because it was, my twelfth grade year, back to that. It was like two cases where an eight year old girl, sitting on the po rc h, playing with a Barbie doll, got shot for no reason People do ing drive by shootings on me. I could be walking o ut my door and lose my life I just tell them for one, I'm ver y spiritual. I feel like I have 100 percent connection with God. I'm at peace and at ease with life itself And I don't think about deat h. I don't. I enjoy my job. I just try to be safe. I use my tactics. I'm still a rookie, so I'm still learning, so I take construction criticism I even ask the other officers, hey, what could I hav e done better in this si tuation or whatever it is? I know for a fact I can't see myself doing anything else. Nothing else. SB: Are there officers that have sort of mentored you along the way? Or is it more of a collective, the village again? MB: It's col lective. I have four training officers, and I'm very close with all of them because you know, you spend pretty much a month with each officer, riding with them. I t's like, you have no choice but to kin d of get a feel for who they are ; they know who you are The y're always willing to help. I still talk to them, especial ly if it's something important where I have a question I just call them and I ask them b ecause I know I can. A ll the other officers they're nice. I've never had anyone be rude to me, or like you're a rookie, I'm not going to talk to you ; I'm not going to help you. E verybody's pretty good about that. SB: Are you usually in the same area patrolling ?
FOS 005; Brown; Page 23 ! MB: Yes I work out east. It's funny 'cause I actually work in the zone that I worked in with the summer camp with the kids. So it's kind of like, I know the area, I know the people. And it's good. SB: You say you want to get more involved with juvenile justice. MB: Oh, yeah, that's always been my ultimate goal. I wa nt to start a youth program. I don't know if I'm going to end up doing it here in Gainesville or onc e I'm retired from police, go back to Miami and do it. Because, you know, we have parks and stuff but it was like, any and every body could come. They would come on the basketball court, run all the kids off, smoke, do whatever they wanted to do. I n actuality, there was nowhere to go, pretty much. So as a result, y eah, w e played football on the street We would have track and field contes ts in the middle of th e street. We would put out slides in the grass in the front yard, cut on the sprinklers, and everybody from the neighbo rhood would come, which was fun. Don't get me wrong. But it was just, once those days were over, we wanted somewhere to go. L ike up here, when I went up to Southwest gym, I'm like, wow why ca n't we have something like this down in Miami but for all ages? Cause here, at Southwest only UF students can go. I t just all got me thinking. I'm like, man, I started really thinking like, shoot, man, I want to have a basketball gym in it, workout gym, I want to ha ve a bowling alley inside of it. I want to have all these things just all in one, just a big youth recreation program. I want them to be able to play football, basketball, flag football, socc er, everything. And I'm just like, man, just so they can have somewhere to go. 'cause a lot of kids, you get to the point where they re sort to crime 'cause it's too much time on their hands. It's
FOS 005; Brown; Page 24 ! n othing constructive to do. W hen you look at it, it's not a lot of opportunities. Like me. I playe d sports, and I worked and went to school, so that was my time. My brothers, my older brother, he didn't care about school, so he would skip school. And work was like, oh, yeah, I'll go when I feel like it. And because his grades weren't good, that too k out the sports. T hen it's like, okay, now I have all this time on my hands to commit crime or to hang with thi s crew, which is bad, to smoke. T hat's just my theory. Occupy your time. SB: Do you see a lot of kids now when you're working that are doing the same things? MB: Yeah, my area that I work in is all low income families. And I get mad becaus e I work from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. a nd literally, you will see five year olds still out and about in the neighborhood at 12 a.m. A n d they're crossing the stre et, going to the corner store, with no parent. And I get mad because it's like, my five year old will be in the house, asleep, in his bed. What does a five year old have to do out here at night? It's p itch black dark, you know. W hy is he outside? And it's bad. It 's just a lot of them. T hey have nothing to do. I mean, I always either blame parenting or just, like I said, there's no opportunities out here. It's kind of like, nowhere constructive to go, so y ou just roam the streets. I dr ive around and I have a little five year ol d stick a middle finger at me a nd it's only because it's what their parents are teaching them: I hate the cops, so you should hate the cops too. Which in actuality, you shouldn't teach your kids that. If anyth ing, you should teach your child how to respond to the police M y mom and dad, before they would let us drive when they were teaching us how to drive, they taught us
FOS 005; Brown; Page 25 ! if you get pulled over by the police, keep yo ur hands on the steering wheel so they can se e them. Don't move, don't do anything until they tell you to do it. And my mom would always say, if you can, dial our home, because we had cell phones, and we had them on speed dial, so it was like, you know, put us on the phone and just let us listen to e verything. So, when I got pulled over by a cop sometime, it was like, hit speed dial. And I'm like, this, come to the window, you know, be respectful. I've had so many en counters with police officers a nd the y're bad experiences in Miami b ut it didn't make me hate them. I just wanted to join t hem. You know, plus I had knowledge of the law f rom being in classes and stuff. Bu t nowadays, you got five year olds sticking middle fingers at the police, and I hate the police. They grow up, sixtee n, we're putting th em in jail 'cause they're running from us, fighting us, doing whatever SB: Anyone could come from the same place, and it's just, do your friends and family treat you differently now that you're a police officer? MB: No, they love it. M y brother, he loves it. You'll hear him on the phone, yeah, my sister got a car now. [L aughter] Man, my sister t he police, man. Even with that, I already taught him W hen he goes out, I'm like, somebody contact you, be respectful L isten to whatever, give them your I D ; cal l me if you need to. But don't do nothing crazy. SB: Not getting you out of trouble. MB: Yeah, that. But I'm not that worried about it with my little brother. H e's a pretty good guy. My older b rother, I tell him all the time; he has so many run i ns with the cops. I'm just like dude, you're not going to win, n ot acting like that, man. But
FOS 005; Brown; Page 26 ! my mom, she loves it. M y dad, he brags about me all the time. He says I'm his golden child. I'm like, okay. He brags all the time. I never get to see my aunties and them that much, but I have six nieces and nephews now but one nephew and like five nieces, and my nephew, he goes crazy. He came up here when I graduated from the police academy H e's like, where your po lice car? Where your police car? That's why I don't have a police car. I was talking to him on the phone, I'm like, yeah, I got a pol ice car. He couldn't even talk, he was just so tickled. He was just laughing. I'm trying to talk to him on the phone, he's just laugh ing, laughing, laughing. H e just couldn't stop laughing. I'm like, what is wrong with him? He's just so tickled by the whole thought. So when they come up here again, hopefully he'll be able to see my polic e car. B ut it is nice. A nd my husband, he got hired by GPD as well, so we'll both be police offi cers. So that's nice. He's so protective. It's like, yo, I'm the officer. [L aughter] Let me protect you now. But he's good. SB: So you completed your degree, you're doing what you want t o do, you have a happy marriage, you're taking care of your brother W ill it get any better? MB: Yeah. I love kids, I can't wait to have kids. But I'm just waiting with the whole job thing right now b ecause I don't want to be off for nine months as a female. You don't want to have to worry about it. I mean, jeez, n ine months SB: Do they have a policy about that at GPD?
FOS 005; Brown; Page 27 ! MB: I'm not sure. I know when you get injured or pregnant, they let y ou work at the front desk until I guess you can't work anymore. But I don't want to do that. I want to be out on the road. SB: Right. [L au ghter ] Bound to happen at some point though. MB: Yeah, but I love kids, man. I can't wait. I always tell him I want like ten kids. And everybody's like, you're not going to say that after you have your first one. SB: Try getting a dog first. MB: That's what I said, and he's like, no, let's have kids first. I was like, yeah, you right. Because he wants these humongous dogs, and I'm like, I'm not a dog lover, I'm just terrified of dogs. SB: Really? MB: Yeah. Not as much as I used to be, but I used to run f rom pit bulls like every time. I remember the day they cam e through my neighborhood. The cops came through with animal control. And they were picking up the pit bulls in our neighborhood, in Miami, bec ause some guys were actually doing dog fights. And thes e dogs were always getting out of the gate chasing us. And I guess enoug h people complained about it SB: Yeah, bad dog owners lead to dangerous situations. MB: Yeah. SB: Well, if you raise your own dog . MB: That's what he keeps saying! I'm like, man I don't want big dogs. A beagle? Yeah. My friend has a beagle and I'm like, yeah, I like beagles. But he's like, a Rottweiler and a G reat D ane. What?
FOS 005; Brown; Page 28 ! SB: I'm actually dogsitting a beagle right now. MB: See? And they're just small enough, you know. SB: Y eah, but their noise makes up for their size. MB: Yeah, my friend, she had to m u tt a what do you call that thing? Every time they bark? SB: Mm hm the shock collar. MB: And I was like, yo, that's cruel and unusual punishment. I 'm like, are you serious? No A w, man, I felt bad for the dogs. SB: So does the Florida Opportunity Scholarship Program keep in touch with you and try to see what you're doing now? MB: No. Actually, I was so surprised when they e mailed me ; it was through my job e mail. And I don't e ven know how they got that. I was actually s hocked when I got the e mail 'cause I haven't heard anything since, I did the interview right before I gradua ted and I was in the magazine, and it was a really nice article. They did me and two other people that was from Miami. SB: Was it UF Today ? MB: Yes, yes yes And so, I haven't heard from them since then. So when I got the e mail, I was like, wow, okay. But other than that, I don't keep in contact with anybody. SB: So it was pretty much, no strings attached, big help? MB: Definitely was. I mean, I didn't have to pay for anything at all as far as I can remember at UF. Didn't have to pay back anything, nothing. No loans had to be taken ou t. It covered everything: books, classes, food, housing.
FOS 005; Brown; Page 29 ! SB: Did you have a meal plan? MB: My freshman year I did. SB: Nice. That was probably awesome. MB: Yeah. And it also helped because when I moved off campus, where I stayed at, th ey did a college deferment plan. S o every time I got my financial aid I would go p ay a big lump to the apartment and not have to worry about paying $400 a month. It was just like, January I paid $1,000 and then in October I paid like $1,000 or what ever, so that was actually helpful too. SB: Nice. Well, is there anything else you would like to cover before we end the interview? MB: I don't know. Anything else you want to know? I mean, I got a lot of interesting stories. I could be here all day. SB: I know! I don't want to get off track, yeah What, okay, what is the story when it comes to being on patrol? Do you have the story yet? MB: What do you mean, what's the most exciting thing I've bee n involved in ? What do you mean when you say the story? SB: I mean, it could be a patrol incident or a program you're involved with or anything like that. MB: Okay, let me see. Patrol incident. Oh, I have so many. I come home and tell cop stories all the time. Oh, man. Like my friends, my sorority sisters, everybo dy loves my cop stories. Bu t, let's see . I don't know; I have so many. Like, this one, I contacted a female, I knew she was trespassing, and plus, she committed a pedestrian violation. So I stopped her to get out and talk with her, a nd I got
FOS 005; Brown; Page 30 ! consent to search her and everything. So I got her hands on top of her head and everything, and go to search in her right pocket, she has a crack pipe. S o I take it out and set it on my car, and she's like, no, b you're not taking me to jail, you're not taking me to jail and starts to pull on the way S o at that point I'm thinking alright, pull out my T aser. And I was like, ah, forget it, 'cause by the time I pull out my T a ser, she's going to try to run a nd I'm gonna have to let go. So I was like, no. So I did a quick take down move to the ground. It was really cool. T hen I got her on the ground, I'm on the radio calling for backup. Another office r pull up, and I'm like, thank God, 'cause I g ot her on the ground, but she's . SB: Scratching . MB: I 'm trying to handcuff her, and I look at my arm. At that point I was like, too, stay prof essional. Stay professional 'cause you have to be professional. SB: You could be angry. MB: Yeah, rather than using excessive force. 'cause once I looked at my arm, I' m like, ah But it was good. But the things I dealt with, man. I think the worst things I probably deal with is people who attempt to commit suicide and stuff. I don't understand it. I just never feel lik e life is that hard, maybe. But I mean, life is good for me so I don't know. This one guy, he's sitting in the car, the gun is like this to his chin, and so that's wher e you kind of change your mind set. L ike, okay, this is a real situation you're in. It's not just about arresting this female who's got a crack pipe. You can let that go if you re ally wanted to. But this guy's life and death. And you don't want him to tur n the tables on you; he has a gun in his hand. T hat was good, good learning experience.
FOS 005; Brown; Page 31 ! SB: Did you talk him down? MB: No, we have peopl e t hat's certified to do that s o another officer did that. She did a great job. And then we had a whole rifle team set up. We had a command post set up. To me it was my first time seeing stuff like that, where all of us are out there together out there as a team now we're on it. And we have to put together a contact team, so my specific job, I was given a task to take out my T aser S o when he got out of the car, just in case he tried to get back in, it was, you tase him, do not l et him get back in the car. That was my job. Another officer's job was to keep your eye on that gun once he put the gun down. I t w as just, everybody had a task, and to me, it was like, okay I can't mess up on my task 'cause my task would put us back into what we were just st anding o ut here for three hours if I didn't g et him down on the ground. It's just good, man. I love driving fast. I do. [laughter] It's so cool. You running, lights and sirens. You get a rush, man. SB: Is it frustrating trying to navigate through traffic, even if you have your sirens on? MB: Oh, G od. SB: I feel like people kind of freak out a little bit. MB: You have people who, some of them get out of the way. Some of them don't noti ce it. Some of them just stop, j ust completely stop. I mean, we're going at least eighty miles and they just stop so then you're like, errr. On UF game days, I think those are the only days I get so aggravated. You can't blame it on them, it's just traffic. So if I'm running lights and sirens, they don't have anywhere to go. It's just so backed up. But those are the d ays when we really get loaded j ust because all the traffic, extra peo ple in town
FOS 005; Brown; Page 32 ! SB: Drunk people. MB: Oh. Don't even get me . let's not even start with that. It's funny, though, man. My goal is to never be rude to anybody. One of the most things I can say is, my communication skills with people are excellent. I'm usually able to talk somebody right into handcuffs, you know, put them at ease. Just talki ng to people, period. It's just a good tool to use, if you know how to talk to somebody, rather than just straight up being rude. But it saves a lot of situations from becoming somethin g that it doesn't have to be But it's funny. I'll have so much fun. I guess it was I don't even know whatever this Fest thing wa s [Fest is an annual music festival hosted around Halloween weekend at various venues in Gainesville, Florida. It started in 2002 and has been sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon ]. I'm like, I don't understand. I'm just like, whatever, just laughin g and joking with all these people. I'm like, these people are nuts. SB: Mm hm Like four people sleeping on a bathroom floor. MB: Well one guy, I think he was from Californi a. I'm like, well, how'd he get . ? Well, a couple of buses, then I biked for a couple of miles, then I walk ed then I caught a train and got back on a bus, and then biked the rest of the way. I was like, what? SB: My neighbors had some friends who drove from Indiana. Four guys. MB: Oh, no. I didn't know it was that serious. We ha d one from Canada, like a busload from Canada, I'm like, what? What is wrong with you people? I just wanna ask . [L aughter]
FOS 005; Brown; Page 33 ! SB: It's a weird weekend in Gainesville. MB: Well my thing is I guess I was just shocked cause this was my first time, I didn't know about it at all. I had n o clue as to what it entailed, n othing. And everybody's walking around with an open can of beer. Yeah, that's against the law. And then the y're shocked when you tell them. I didn't know! Well, now you do. E verybody w as doing it though. It's like, n obody was walking without one. SB: Were you involved at all with the Dove World Outreach Center support or security when that was all going on? MB: Yes, yes, I had to work in the Downtown P laza. And, shoot, we actually got overtime f or that. SB: I would imagine. MB: W e stood out there for like four hours extra, just to make sure everything was good. Everything was peaceful. We only had like two of our normal, our regulars who hang out there. They're little drunk wino guys and they sta rted saying crazy stuff and we're just like, dude, chill out He just wanted some attention. It was more funny than anything. I have fun with people. SB: It was scary that everybody was paying attention to Gainesville for that reason. MB: Yes, it was. I wa sn't up by Dove, other officers got sent up there. But for the most part, everything was good. Nothing happened. SB: Yeah. Kind of diffused by the time it happened. MB: Yeah. But we had every officer working too, so we had high security. I think we did a g ood job as far as teamwork and keeping the city under control. So, it was good, man.
FOS 005; Brown; Page 34 ! SB: Very cool. MB: Yeah. I m ean it's kind of scary to think you know, okay, I'm standing here What if, right now, somebody sets a car on fire, and it blows up? But, thi s is what I'm getting paid for. This is why I chose to do this job. SB: It's weird that that event brought that kind of fear into Gainesville. But I'm glad it went away quickly. MB: Definitely. SB: Well, I appre ciate you talking with me today and we will g et this interview up and uploaded and transcribed and we can share it with the world. I appreciate it. MB: No problem SB: That's the end of the interview. [End of i nterview] Transcribed by: Diana Dombrowski, 2011 and 2013
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