Hubert Williams was a sergeant and precinct commander in the most heavily hit area during the 1967 New-ark race riots and has walked a beat for eight years in that city, which some people point to as the finest example of urban decay in the nation.
But as a black man living in the ghetto himself, he believes that the only way for the policeman to gain respect in the community is to reestablish ties with that Community. And in order to sharpen his understanding of the problems involved, he is returning to school at age 30 as a Fellow at the Law School's Center for Criminal Justice.
The Center- funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation- each year selects a number of individuals in the field of law enforcement to come to Cambridge to study at the Law School and participate in a variety of research projects.
Research projects at the Center range from a Methadone treatment program for addicts in Bedford-Stuyvesant to a number of evaluations of prison systems. There are currently seven such projects underway at the Center.
The Fellows for 1970-71 include four police officers, three correctional officials, a prosecutor, and a former public defender. The police officers are all members of big-city forces- Detroit, New York, Newank, and Cambridge.
"It's really pretty scary to have the members of your own community, your own race, feel such a sense of alienation from, and hatred of the policeman," Williams said yesterday.
"But it's certainly understandable. Only an idiot would place a canine corps in a large urban center- it's like pouring gasoline on a fire. Black people have always had a terrific fear of dogs. I think it stems from the original slave-owners use of dogs."
"And the current trend toward the acquisition of tanks, machine guns and other war weapons is just as stupid. The only way for the police in this country to serve the people is for them to become inextricably bound with the will and ideas of the people in the community," Williams added.
Williams says that being at Harvard will enable him to achieve a far deeper understanding of the concept of law and law enforcement in a society.
"This place challenges me," Williams says, "I've got nine credits worth of courses at the Law School and somebody's always asking me to read this or that report."