CBS News justice and homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues must be a meticulous manager of the time he controls.
He recently pumped out his first book, “Black and Blue: Inside the Divide between the Police and Black America,” and is already busy on his second book due out in 2018. “I’m tackling Russian government meddling in the election [in the next book],” said Pegues, who worked at Fox 9 back when it was KMSP-TV.
“I believe that in any other time in history an adversary interfering in a U.S. election would likely have been considered an act of war. If the American people don’t trust elections, then they don’t have confidence in what makes us Americans. It’s another important issue shaping who we are as a country,” he told me.
In Part 2 of this interview, we’ll talk about personal matters and touch on a couple of other police items.
Q: What kind of name is Pegues?
A: I’m still working on doing a thorough vetting, but I’m told that it is from southern France. I am a descendant of slaves who were given the name. You’ll find a lot of us in the Southern states. My parents are from Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama. My immediate family pronounces it “puh-gays” but it’s really “pig-geez.”
Q: When does somebody as into his family and job as you are have time to write a book about policing?
A: I got the job done late at night, before dawn, on my vacations and lunch breaks. It was that important to me to get both sides of the issue in a book so that the public would have the facts. It’s too important an issue for people not to be informed.
Q: How many times have you been pulled over for driving while black?
A: I don’t recall personally being pulled over for driving while black. But it is something black Americans talk about a great deal and expect. The statistics show that it has been happening for decades.
Q: What have you told your daughters to do if stopped by police?
A: One daughter is too young for the conversation. But I have a 15-year-old daughter who knows that I had “the talk” when I was a teenager, and she is aware of what is going on in the world. She is extremely bright and always polite and courteous. Thanks to my wife! No matter the situation, my teenage daughter knows that is what we expect. Safety in all situations is paramount.
Q: Were your skills as an orator, due to being a network broadcaster, an asset while recording the “Black and Blue” audiobook?
A: I’m still learning how to record an audiobook. Being a network broadcaster helps, but I was learning on the fly and the folks at Audible were very patient with me.
Q: Were you surprised by the Philando Castile verdict?
A: My research has shown that it is difficult to convict a police officer.
Q: Based on what I’m hearing following the shooting death of Justine Damond, this looks like a case in which a police officer is likely to be charged and convicted, if he doesn’t plead to something. What do you think?
A: As we’ve seen in previous cases, it is difficult to get a conviction against a police officer. It’s something I discuss at length in my book. In previous cases what may seem like a clear-cut case of misconduct to the public doesn’t necessarily look that way to a jury once all the facts are considered.
Q: Is there a solution to what is going on in Chicago?
A: As my research in “Black and Blue” points out, part of the solution is getting police and community in a more cooperative relationship. That includes an increase in trust and understanding. In addition, police must be given the resources they need to fight crime. But there must also be a realization police officers cannot solve the problems alone. There is an economic component to this that is often overlooked. So many communities in Chicago have seen opportunity and hope diverted to neighborhoods that have a wealth of both. Police are often confronted with problems it’s not their job to solve.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.