Jerry Grubb, a lifelong athlete, was telling a valet he was fast. Faster than the valet. He might have been saying it loudly or just loud enough because…
“A KCPD recruiter overheard the conversation and asked me if I was fast,” Grubb told the story. “I said yes, and he then asked if I ever thought about joining the police department. He mentioned foot chases and the competitive nature of policing. That’s how it started.”
That was twenty-something years ago, and the athlete who grew up in New York City found his calling. He’d become a detective and worked in Internal Affairs, but right now Grubb is having his best career moments. Grubb is a physical trainer and the first African American man to teach Defensive Tactics in the KCPD’s 148-year history.
It's a hands-on role for Grubb who is teaching recruits how to protect themselves. The physical aspect is obvious, but Grubb points out how much value there is in talking with people to de-escalate situations.
“Anybody can fight, but not everybody can talk and relate to a total stranger effectively,” Grubb said. “I can teach you numerous techniques, but if you can’t talk to someone, those techniques are kind of worthless in my opinion.”
The empathy he teaches comes naturally, formed, maybe engrained since he was young. Grubb matter-of-factly says he didn’t have the best childhood growing up in a foster home in New York City.
“When I got adopted, I saw a different part of life,” Grubb said. “That’s what drew me into being able to relate to people in their worst situations. As officers, we don’t get called when everyone’s having a good day. I can understand. I’ve had that knowledge since I was little seeing people at their worst because I was at my worst. That helped me be an officer here.”
To serve and protect, he takes to heart. When he’s not at the police academy, Grubb is often volunteering. Recently, he helped run the 9th Annual Badges and Baseball event, connecting area youth with police officers.
The athlete, who valued a team atmosphere, revels in knowing his fellow officers will always show up to support his events and each other. Likewise, he appreciates his accomplishment of being the first Black officer in the department to teach defensive tactics.
“When African American kids see athletes and want to be like them, you want them to be able to look at this department and see someone who looks likes them in these positions, Grubb said. “That’s pretty cool.”