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Clayton Moore: “Be careful who you befriend”

I’m hoping to impact the training procedures for police departments and law enforcement agencies for both veteran officers as well as new cadets. I want to show the need for diversity training and dialogue that emphasizes community empowerment as a bridge to bring law enforcement and minority communities together. As part of my series about […]

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I’m hoping to impact the training procedures for police departments and law enforcement agencies for both veteran officers as well as new cadets. I want to show the need for diversity training and dialogue that emphasizes community empowerment as a bridge to bring law enforcement and minority communities together.


As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Clayton Moore.

Clayton Moore was the first African American hired onto the Fostoria, Ohio police force in 1986. In 2008, the City of Fostoria claimed sixteen conduct violations against Moore and fired him. He challenged the decision, and the arbiter of the case — in a scathing rebuke against the City — reinstated Sgt. Moore, who went on to serve for another ten years before retiring in 2018. Moore remains actively involved in his community and is the author of Good Cop, Black Cop: Guilty until Proven Innocent.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Growing up in the Moore household, we always knew where we’d be every Sunday morning and early afternoon. Everyone in town knew, too. On special occasions, we’d also be in the pews on Sunday evenings. A Christian upbringing along with developing a strong faith later in life would be a major factor in what I would later describe as the fight of my life.

Although I grew up “across the tracks” and my parents taught us to love and forgive, the street taught us to love and forgive everybody but the cops.

Throughout high school and college, I had dreams of playing in the NFL. But winding, twisting, rough, and re-connecting roads took me away from the dream of being a professional athlete to the reality of becoming a cop. And this is where it all got interesting.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?

Around the time I was in the 6th grade, I read Fredrick Douglass Fights for Freedom by Margaret Davidson. The courage it took for Douglass to fight back against his slave owner knowing it may cost him his life inspired me. It taught me to stand up for what I thought was right.

One example I wrote about a time I stood up for myself was when I’d overslept during a time I was working the third shift. A supervisor wanted to hold me to a different standard than another officer, so I pushed back. That was one of the first stands I had to make. Unfortunately, there would be many more to follow.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

An interesting mistake I made very early in my career happened when I was dispatched to investigate a burglary/theft case. While the family was gone, someone broke into their house and took several pieces of their train collection. I looked at it as not a big deal; they were only toy trains, in my mind. After a couple of days of putting in little to no effort on the case, my Captain kind of lit my fire and had me look into some of the leads we had. On a happy note, all the train items were recovered and returned. The train pieces, close to 50, were steel, heavy in weight, and the total cost for all the pieces was over 1,000.00 dollars. The lesson I learned from that case was that it doesn’t matter what value I see in someone’s interests or attach to another person’s property — those items may carry more sentimental value as well as monetary value to them. It’s my job to treat and investigate them all like they are top priority. I felt like crap when the pieces were recovered and I saw the book value on them. That was a truly humbling experience.

Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

I’m hoping to impact the training procedures for police departments and law enforcement agencies for both veteran officers as well as new cadets. I want to show the need for diversity training and dialogue that emphasizes community empowerment as a bridge to bring law enforcement and minority communities together.

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

I feel that if ten people read my book, you could ask this question and get ten different answers. However, one of the most interesting stories that I share is about the time I had to deliver a death message to a family. It was late at night, and I was working the third shift. I knew the people I had to notify. I also knew that they owned guns. As I knocked on the door, I was greeted by an elderly black woman. She recognized me and invited me into the house. I asked her if she was home alone and she said she was.

The lighting in the house was terrible. There was a dim light in the kitchen area. As I delivered the message about the death of her family member, she screamed and was in denial. Then I heard a male voice in the bedroom ask her if she was OK. The adrenaline kicked in immediately.

You’ll have to read the book to see what happens next.

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

There were two incidents that hit me hard, prompting me to get my story on paper and message out to the world. The first was the Trayvon Martin shooting — I’d say murder — in Florida, and the second was the Philando Castile shooting — again, I’d say murder — in Falcon Heights, Minn. But it wasn’t just their deaths. It was what some of my co-workers, all white police officers, were saying that struck me: “Well, we don’t know all of the facts.”

Funny thing. When I was fired on 16 bogus and trumped-up charges, none of them said, “We don’t know all the facts.” We’d all like to think that justice and law are color blind, and it is…It’s blind to the needs and experiences of people of color.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

One of my daughters has doubts that the justice system is fair. During a recent conversation, I gave her details of how law enforcement agencies issue warrants and make arrests. I went on to explain how they gather facts. She then turned to me and said, “Daddy, they fired you and said you did a lot of things you didn’t do.” My response was, “Yes, they did.”

What father wouldn’t be impacted by that question from one of their children and the complicated thoughts and feelings it pulls up?

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

First, I believe there needs to be an acknowledgment that there are problems within the law enforcement/justice system and that there have been for a long time.

Second, I think society — communities — can include diverse social groups that are empowered to deal with the issues unique to their communities. But that requires that they know and can list the problems and work with everyone involved to solve them.

Third, politicians can move to institute bills that hold law enforcement officers and departments more accountable. They can pass legislation that would mandate continuous cultural diversity training that fosters understanding.

And this is just a shortlist of topics that need to be discussed.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is the ability, or gift, to get others to move in a certain direction, to work toward a certain goal, or to stand for a certain cause. If you want to be a leader, you must first have courage because as a leader, there will be times sooner or later when you may have to stand alone.

At the start of my case, when I was fighting to get my job back, my attorney asked me if I was considering a plea bargain. I looked at him and without flinching said, “I can’t…I didn’t do anything wrong.” I knew I had to stand alone. Yes, I had an attorney representing me, but I was the only person that had something to lose.

I had to stand and fight. In some ways, it wasn’t about me. It was about doing the right thing, standing up for what is right.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Be careful who you befriend. Some people will want to be associated with you not because they like you but because they want to use you or try to acquire a favor from you down the road.
  2. Keep your phone number private. Once people have your number, you become their personal law enforcement officer, and they will rely on you to handle all of their problems no matter what time of day or night it is.
  3. Don’t buy donuts in public while you’re working. Seriously, you’re setting yourself up for cop jokes, especially after the bars close and people have been drinking. This is when needless confrontations can occur.
  4. It’s easy to get into a confrontation, but it takes wisdom and skill to avoid one. You owe it to your family to return home safely. In all you do, remember that it’s not your ego that’s going to take care of your family; it’s you.
  5. You don’t have to give everyone you stop a ticket. Giving warnings in certain situations can go a long way in establishing a rapport with people, which can prove to be extremely valuable when you least expect it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“When life knocks you down, try to land on your back, ’cause if you can look up, you can get up.” This quote encourages me to never quit, to never give up, to always fight. Everything is not always going to go your way, but in all you go through, you have to continue to go through.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

This is a no-brainer: Oprah Winfrey. When Oprah first came on TV, I did not like her. I thought her show was all about male bashing, especially towards black males. During my first marriage, I would always have dinner ready when my wife came home from work. She’d grab her plate, sit on the couch, and watch Oprah while the kids and I went outside and played. This was an everyday ritual. For years I even partly blamed Oprah for my divorce.

However, growth, maturity, and understanding has a way of allowing a person to see things more clearly than through once clouded, muddied, and distorted frames. The passion Oprah displays towards empowering others to be their best is second to none. The class, grace, and elegance in which she comes across, wrapped up in a down-to-earth, ordinary-just-me kind of girl is so cool. She is extremely blessed and understands that the more she blesses others, the more blessings she’ll receive. In a nutshell, this sista just freakin’ rocks.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers are welcome to go to my website where they can see what I’m up to and sign up for my newsletter: GoodCopBlackCop.com.

They can also follow me on Twitter: @ClaytonBlackCop

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


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