Generations of Blue in the Detroit Police Department
DETROIT (FOX 2) - Willie Duncan III was on the path to a successful football career until he had an epiphany about putting the pads down and picking up a different uniform.
The decision to put on the uniform and badge in the City of Detroit is a tough commitment to make, for most. But in some families, that decision is a tradition and the city has a police force with generations of officers who are passionate about their job.
"My perspective in life changed. I could say I want to make all the money in the wold and do this or that but when you gone, how will you be remembered?" Willie said.
In February, Willie Duncan III will graduate from the Detroit Police Academy, following in his father's footsteps.
"It's scary. I've done it for 27 years and I've been in a lot of situations. However when you're child is doing the same thing as a parent you worry," his dad said.
The Duncans aren't the only Generations of Blue in Detroit.
Gavin Fitzgerald has been in the 3rd Precinct for two months. His dad is a deputy chief and his mom is a retired captain who still works in the department as a civilian.
"(The) hardest part is just being the new guy on the street," Gavin said.
That may be the hardest part for Gavin but not for his mom, the retired captain. She knows the dangers are out there.
"I'm working during the day and he works nights. I work with him and I listen on my radio. It's just something I need to do for me for now," said his mom, Kelly.
"I just know when I am talking on the radio at work, I know she's listening. It adds a little pressure for me," Gavin said.
Captain Kelly said her brother retired from the DPD's homicide unit, and before that, her dad did the same. He's since passed but is present and the legacy carries on in Gavin.
"Maybe eventually I can put the radio down because dad's looking out for Gavin," Kelly said.
Lt. Vernal Newson, like the retired captain, is passing the torch to his son and he knows the risks of being an officer.
"I been on the job long enough to where I've seen eight scout car crews, unfortunately, go down in the line of duty," Newson said.
Lt. Newson has been there as a total of 16 Detroit Police Officers have died. His son, Jeremy Newson, is in the academy now.
"I always looked up to him and I wanted to follow his footsteps," Jeremy said.
At 20, he's joining during a complicated climate, especially for Black police officers.
"Fear is normal. Everybody fears something, if you don't fear nothing you crazy," Jeremy said.
Then there are three brothers: Daniel Briggs, Breon Briggs, and Brandon Turner.
Daniel is in the 7th precinct and admits he didn't really know what he was getting into when he joined at the age of 19. He was the youngest of three brothers who grew up at Gratiot and 7 Mile.
His older brother, Brandon, says their dad kept them out of trouble.
"Our parents come from Detroit, born and raised. They don't have college so they worked hard to provide for us there are 5 of us," Brandon said."He always wanted us to have a different lifestyle than what we have seen and what we were around."
Breon said what they learned in their old neighborhood applies to what they use now.
"The police pull up and they feel like, oh it's the police, it's going to go this way or that way. Then we get out and have a conversation with them and just from a conversation or what I say or some things that we may share from how we grow up, it can change the impact of the situation or the outcome," Breon said.
There is a fourth brother at Cass Tech High School right now and odds are he'll end right next to these guys.
"I have great leaders in front of me they showed me the way to go," Daniel said.