From fighting off criminals to implementing new initiatives in Cincinnati, Wendell Young has dedicated 40 years of his life to improving his home town.
Growing up in Cincinnati, Young never imagined himself working in law enforcement. It wasn’t until he graduated from high school that he decided to enlist in the Airforce as a Security Force Specialist. His duties consisted of protecting the Airmen, directing traffic, and responding to emergencies, which was something he really enjoyed doing. He enjoyed the experience so much that after he was discharged in 67’, he returned home to Cincinnati and accepted a position with CPD.
Although Young was fortunate enough to be an officer in Cincinnati, a place where he was well known, he still encountered many obstacles.
“The biggest challenge was just being an African American officer at the time when there were riots around the country and in Cincinnati”. Black officers were widely criticized and viewed as ‘Uncle Toms’ and traitors, said Young.
In order to ultimately gain the trust of the African American community, Young and other African American officers formed the Sentinel Police Association, an organization that addresses police corruption, police brutality, and racial discrimination. Although the association did help build the relationship between the officers and the community, some of officers within the department disapproved.
“They didn’t agree that women needed to be hired and they did not agree that promotional opportunities and assignments needed to be spread more evenly throughout the population of the police department.
He never once let the opinions of those who opposed of his decisions stop him from advocating for equal rights. After retiring from CPD, he accepted a position as an Equal Opportunity Officer and worked with employees and managers to ensure that individuals were given the same opportunity for employment and equal pay. Working as an EOO, Young claims it was a very rewarding experience.
Another one of Young’s rewarding experiences was teaching at Aiken High School. In August of 2007 he taught courses called, Government and Public Administration and Law and Public Safety to a group of at-risk youth. One of his biggest challenges was teaching the children because the retention rate was low. However, he realized that for those who did make it throughout the entire school year, were more mature and improved their attitudes by the end.
“I learned that young people who are given an opportunity for the most part, regardless of where they come from, respond well to people who believe in them, work with them, and give them a chance,” said Young.
Even though Young has had a great experience while working for CPD and Aiken, his position now as a Community Council Member is something he says he has always wanted to do. He is very passionate about his job because he is in a position to give input about what’s going on in Cincinnati, a town that he grew up in.
“I just feel like I’ve given a lot to the city, the city has been very good to me, and now I have this opportunity every single day when I come to work to do something that will impact the people I care about,” he said.
As a City Council Member he has helped create the yellow taxi cab reform, supported developments in the cities such as the Banks, help with the development of Washington Park, helped fund money for Streetcars, and has helped to improve infant mortality rates. He is currently working on the budget, making sure that the African American Chamber is properly funded, and that city employees are receiving a decent wage.