June 13-26, 2003
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Q: ‘Are we as diverse as we say we are?’
U.Va. Police Captain Quenton “Q” Trice covers a range of duties in his post.
U.Va. Police Captain Quenton “Q” Trice covers a range of duties in his post, from crime prevention talks to routine patrols at special events to speaking at student forums on issues such as spotlighting — the notion of paying disproportionate attention to minorities in a group setting.

By Anne Bromley

Captain Quenton Trice, a U.Va. police officer for 21 years, is fondly known for his friendly, easy-going manner. Simply “Q” to many who know him, he is a calm presence on his patrols, at special events and in even more difficult situations, such as the community meetings following racially biased events this past year. Both humility and strength play into his character.

“I’m just a country boy from Fluvanna — and now here I am a police captain,” he said. “When there’s a football game, I’m responsible for the safety of thousands of people. It’s important to me to provide a positive service to the community.”

He credits his grandparents with instilling in him the values of how to treat people fairly and with giving him the support to find a successful path in life.

Advancing in rank over the years, Trice was promoted to Deputy Chief of Security and Special Events last year. His duties range from crime prevention talks to routine patrols at special events to speaking at student forums on issues such as spotlighting — the notion of paying disproportionate attention to minorities in a group setting.

Dean of Students Penny Rue said, “If you know ‘Q’… you know he has a powerful presence. As one of the senior leaders in public safety, he has worked on many issues with the students. He was especially generous in helping the community in healing after racially biased incidents” last spring.

“He has helped bridge understanding between student groups of color and law enforcement,” Rue said.

Trice said, “Law enforcement has taught me more than I ever realized about race, so I see things as they really are.” He and his fellow black officers noticed over time that the number of black people on the force — five out of about 50 — remained static and almost quota-like. (Today, the staff is larger because it includes the security departments of the Grounds and the Health System, and comprises 52 white males, 20 black males, 23 white females, 12 black females and one Asian female.)

On patrol, he’s run into situations where he and another officer approach a group of people, and they assume the white officer is the one in charge, when actually he’s the supervisor on call. But he knows when to “roll with it,” he said, and he knows the importance of keeping calm. “Even if I have to arrest somebody, I do it with dignity and respect.”

His calm demeanor doesn’t mean he accepts the status quo. To him, the rhetoric and reality of diversity don’t match right now. Since he became director of security and attended more upper-level meetings, he noted, “I don’t see many people who look like me. … We have to consider this: Are we really as diverse as we say we are?”

The appointments of African Americans to leadership posts — Craig Littlepage as athletics director and his boss, Paul Norris, as police chief — certainly signal a forward direction, he said, but much more needs to be done to give minorities compelling reasons to take jobs at U.Va. and stay in the Charlottesville area.

He laments the lack of social opportunities for African Americans in Charlottesville. When potential faculty, administrators and students are courted on Grounds, “we show them the ‘pretties’ of U.Va., but what do black folk do after they come here?”

Despite living in this area all his life, he has had to seek more African-American culture by going to Richmond for shopping and entertainment, he said.
Trice stresses that he’s never been treated poorly in the workplace, “but I’m not going to say that’s been the case for everyone.”

He said he wonders how often others in the University community step outside their comfort zones. “The work environment might be integrated, and people say they have friends there, but do they spend time with them outside of work?” Political correctness keeps people from seeking a deeper understanding of race and gender, because they’re afraid of offending someone, he said.

As one way to turn things around, he urges members of the U.Va. community to take more time with each other: “Every opportunity an individual of a different race gets to interact with another, be honest and ask the hard questions. Don’t sugar-coat it.”

His teen-age daughter is not afraid to “talk a hard line” and ask her white friends, “Why do white people do such and such?” he said. “We need to have deep-rooted conversation to reason together and understand each other. Let’s be honest not only in words, paying lip service, but so that it gets to your soul.”


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