On Your Side Champions: Helping police-community relations

Donte Woods-Spikes is one of the rising voices in the effort to repair police-community relations in Columbus.

He speaks candidly to groups, including TED-X audiences and prisoners in Lorain. The 26-year-old said he's had good experiences and bad experiences with police, but at least he's had the opportunity to know good relations can happen with officers.

He knows it, because he credits former CPD D.A.R.E. Officer Randy Stonerock with giving him the inspiration to become a speaker.

In 2000, Stonerock came to Woods-Spikes fifth grade class at Hamilton Elementary School.

Woods-Spikes described himself as a "walled off, silent" child, but Stonerock's high energy, inspirational program, and especially the songs, eventually drew Woods-Spikes out of his shell.

Recently, he wrote a blog about how DARE and Officer Stonerock changed his life. It's titled "the First White Man I ever Met."

It was brought to Stonerock's attention by co-workers at CPD and he was blown away when he read it.

He's often wondered what happened to all his students and marvels at how far the once shy Woods-Spikes has come.

Recently, the two reunited at CPD headquarters and after a two-hour talk, agreed to meet next month for dinner.

"He kept tellin' me, you just need to know the difference that you made--and I'm looking at this kid and thinking , you don't know what kind of a difference you're making right now," Officer Stonerock said.

In fact, Woods-Spikes has become a prolific public speaker. Well versed in the challenges young men continue to face in neighborhoods like Linden, he tries to reach them, while shoring up relations with the police.

He wants them to know, "some people in the community have never had a chance to interact with police. It's police that never had the chance to interact with people in the community. I want both sides to know it's very possible."

If you want to read Donte's story about meeting Officer Stonerock, you can read his blog here.

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