St. Anthony police calm black boy’s fears that police are out to get him
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ST. ANTHONY — For as long as Lindall Tille could remember, her six-year-old son Domani has always loved police officers. So when she noticed him hiding from cops whenever he saw them, she wondered why.
Lindall asked Domani several times what was wrong, but he never wanted to talk about it. This went on for about a month before Domani opened up.
“He had confided in me that one of the kids he plays with in the neighborhood told him that all cops are out killing black people,” Lindall tells EastIdahoNews.com.
As one of the few black kids in St. Anthony, Domani had spent weeks terrified his life would soon be coming to an end. After learning what was bothering him, Lindall immediately explained to him that just like anything in the world, there is good and bad. She told him what his friend said isn’t true and that cops have to enforce laws and keep people safe.
But her words didn’t quite stick with Domani.
“A little bit more time passed and he asked me, ‘When I get bigger are the cops going to kill me too?’ she recalls him saying. “(At that point) I knew, I’m not resolving this at my level.”
Lindall made a post on Facebook about her son’s concern last Thursday, and St. Anthony Police Chief Allen Neff stumbled upon it. He messaged her and said they would be grilling hot dogs at a community event that night and they’d love to meet Domani and show him around the cop car, if he’s comfortable.
“People shouldn’t have to hear that (kind of comment),” Neff says. “(I thought) we need to meet this little boy and we need to change that perception that someone has planted and we need to tell him who we are. We’re just regular people that do a job.”
At the Music in the Park event, Neff told one of his officers, Officer Wilson, who hadn’t heard anything about Domani’s story, that he had somebody that needed to meet her.
After Domani got the courage to walk over to the police, Wilson noticed right away that he was extremely timid and didn’t want to talk to her.
Lindall explained to Wilson why Domani was nervous, and Wilson took it upon herself to make an unforgettable impression.
“It’s always my mission to get kids to like us (and) to really develop a relationship with kids,” she said. “But at that point, it was to make him not scared, and it was such a great experience.”
Domani got to sit in the patrol vehicle and push the lights and siren buttons, wear Wilson’s police vest and he even had a one-on-one conversation with Wilson.
“I told him ‘Our goal is not to kill people. We like to keep people safe (and) that’s what we’re here for,'” she recalls. “That seemed to make him feel better.”
After his positive encounter with the cops, Lindall said Domani won’t stop talking about it and it’s changed his outlook on law enforcement.
On Wednesday, Wilson was walking down the sidewalk while on patrol and Domani happened to be outside. She had no idea that’s where he lived.
Domani immediately flagged Wilson down and ran over to her with a big smile.
“We did a fist bump and I told him, ‘You are my favorite kid in this town.’ He was so excited,” she said.
What the police department has done for the Tille family, who has only lived in St. Anthony since the end of March, is something they’ll never forget. They moved from Boise where it’s so diverse, Lindall says they never had these conversations.
“I feel like in small towns, there’s not such a diverse population that it needs to be talked about more than it is,” says Lindall. “We just need to spread kindness.”
Wilson said they love interacting with the community. If you have concerns or questions, you’re invited to give them a call at (208) 624-4001.
“We have a great community here, and we do our very best every day to do the best job that we can,” Neff says.