Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, who has made national headlines for his efforts to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the people of Flint, says that systematic racism in law enforcement is a reality -- but he sees a positive change already beginning to happen.

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In an interview with Boston Public Radio WBUR's Jeremy Hudson, Swanson took issue with President Trump's National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien's assertion that racism doesn't exist in law enforcement.

“I can't agree that it doesn't exist. It's a reality. You saw the frustration. [Referring to incidents in Minneapolis and other cities where violence has errupted.] You've seen cases throughout. And when law enforcement doesn't call the wrong a wrong, it doesn't respond in a way that would be normally responding if a civilian did what happened, that's where the boiling point comes from."

But Swanson says he sees change on the horizon, noting that rallies in George Floyd's name have inspired law enforcement to reexamine the way they treat people.

“But I want to tell you, through time and through healing, we're going to get back. You can already see the change. We can see police agencies across the nation now change philosophies, whether they learned it from Flint, Michigan, that's not for me to determine."

Swanson says that his decision to lay down his baton and join Genesee County residents in a peaceful march was an impromptu one.

"You know, I'd like to say that it was a planned decision and it was strategic, but it really came from the heart," Swanson said. "The intensity was so great, it had been building all week, it had started with eight minutes and 46 seconds that erased police relations [with the public] in an instant and when I felt that tension and they walked up on the line and the two sides were clashing just like you see around the nation, I just knew that something had to change. I couldn't believe it was happening right there before my eyes in Flint."

The sheriff noted that George Floyd's death has changed police work in America and says we have to start doing things differently. “Recognize what's there. Listen to the people.”

Listen to the interview below.

SEE MORE: 26 Moving Pictures From The Flint Protest

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