In honor of Black History Month, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office interviewed Capt. Terry King, leader of the Domestic Violence, High Tech Crimes, Megan’s Law, and Special Victims Units to talk about his career path and message to others.
Q: What is the importance of Black History Month and what does it mean to you?
Capt. Terry King (TK): The importance of Black History Month involves paying tribute and honoring African Americans who have made extraordinary contributions to society, while facing unprecedented adversities before, during, and post the civil rights era. Black History Month is also important to me because it highlights and shows African American school age children examples of accomplishments made by individuals that look like them, and something positive to aspire to. In short, to me, Black History Month is a time of sincere acknowledgment and a time for us as a society to embrace and celebrate historical and life-changing events made by African Americans.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote?
TK: Yes, I do. I have several. However, one of my all-time favorite quotes is by Maya Angelou – “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Q: What inspired you to get into the career path you’re in?
TK: My passion to help and protect those who cannot help or protect themselves was my ultimate inspiration for entering law enforcement. However, I was also moved by the fact that as a youth, growing up in the city of Trenton, many of my peers had negative perceptions of police because police were primarily seen in my community when something bad happened. I felt the best way I could help to change or reshape people’s perception, was to become a part of law enforcement and ultimately work towards transforming the perceptions of police by the community. Additionally, I wanted to add to the demographic change of law enforcement by 1) becoming an African American male law enforcement officer 2) showing other people of color the important role law enforcement has on their respective community and 3) encouraging people of color to pursue this profession as a career, so they too could become a part of the needed increase in diversity in law enforcement.
Q: What advice do you have to the younger generations on how to navigate and succeed in an ever-challenging world?
TK: I would say be open and receptive to insight and advice offered to you from people who are trying to help you grow as a person and succeed in life. I would also tell the younger generation to be mindful that in life, particularly during these times, you will encounter obstacles that may block your path or knock you down, but regardless of how many times you feel blocked or knocked down, keep pushing and get back up. In the great words of Fredrick Douglas, “if there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Understanding the relationship between struggle and progress, will better prepare you to overcome life challenges that you may face during your journey to success (progress).
Q: According to Data USA’s 2018 report, 85.3% of police officers are male, but only 12.8% of police officers are African American. What does it mean to you to be a black man in law enforcement and what would you say to African American children about joining law enforcement?
TK: I hold my role as an African American male in law enforcement officer with very high regard. That is not to suggest that I am above anyone else or their respective profession. My position and outlook stems from me being keenly aware of the time period where there were very low percentages of African Americans in policing, and in some geographical areas, African American police officers were non-existent, adding to my appreciation and homage paid to those that paved the way for me. To that end, I feel it is my responsibility to continue to encourage other African Americans to pursue a career in law enforcement to aid in adding multi-cultural perspectives to police organizations through change and increased diversity.
Q: What is the proudest moment of your career and why?
TK: The proudest moment of my career involved a homicide case that me and my partner Det. Robert Chew (Camden Police Department) solved in 2012. The case involved six year old Dominick being murdered by an individual who entered his home while Dominick and his sisters were asleep. Once inside the residence, the defendant began to assault Dominick’s 12-year-old sister, Amber. Dominick ran to her aid and managed to fight off the defendant long enough for Amber to escape. During the assault, Amber’s throat was cut multiple times and she spent an extensive amount of time in the hospital. During her stay in the hospital, retired CCPO Captain Patricia Taulane, Homicide Unit Section Chief Christine Shah, Victim Witness Advocate Rosalie Jones, and I developed a relationship with Amber, her sisters, and her mother. For Amber’s Quinceanera (15th birthday), she asked me to be her Godfather. I was completely honored and we have maintained a Godfather/Goddaughter relationship ever since. While this case was shockingly horrific, it is important to note that the heroic actions of Dominick saved the lives of Amber and her sisters. Being asked to be Amber’s Godfather was not only one my proudest moments, it was also one of my most life-changing experiences in my career.
News Coverage of Capt. King’s Work:
Capt. King’s Job Highlighted as Part of “What Happens After a Murder” Series – The Philadelphia Inquirer
To read more about Capt. King’s work, click here.