Lt. Tim McMillan visits Lakeland for Constitution Day

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Lt. Tim McMillan visits Lakeland for Constitution Day

Dominique Lee

On Sept. 17, Lt. Tim McMillan, a retired law enforcement officer, certified law enforcement instructor, civil rights investigator and analyst, visited Lakeland as the speaker for Constitution Day this year. 

 McMillan’s journey into law enforcement began when two of his childhood friends were murdered during a home invasion in 2002. For weeks, the incident bothered him and prior to this, it never occurred to him that “people so young could lose their lives.” He felt that he needed to do something and wanted to honor their memory by “trying to help others.” 

 At 21 years old, McMillan enrolled at the Georgia Basic Law Enforcement Academy and was sworn in as a police officer in 2003. During his time in law enforcement, McMillan served in a variety of roles before retiring after 15 years. 

 On Oct. 1 of 2016, Lt. McMillan pulled over a teenager for texting and driving. The young African American man that McMillan had pulled over was terrified as he approached the car. McMillan saw the fear in the young man’s eyes and told him that “I don’t want you to get hurt.” The young man had been under the impression that if he did not cooperate, McMillan would use force in the situation. However, McMillan intended to convey that he did not want to see the man’s actions of texting and driving put him in harm’s way.” 

 Heartbroken over how much fear the young man had of a white police officer at his window, McMillan decided to share this story on social media. 

 The story went viral and was seen by millions online. After that morning, McMillan decided to retire from law enforcement. The Claiborne Firm reached out and offered him a new job opportunity. To McMillan “it just felt right” to pursue this new career path even though some of his colleagues felt he had “gone to the dark side.” 

 In his new role as a civil rights investigator and analyst, McMillan and The Claiborne Firm takes on cases “that most legal representatives won’t,” providing representation to the most “economically disadvantaged.” 

 Although McMillan has experienced a lot throughout his career, he has considerable hope. He believes that “future generations are going to be more inclusive” and have “less racist ideals.” He wants students to know that one way they can positively affect police reform is to care when others share their stories, to “discuss it among yourself” and to “listen to each other and learn from each other.”

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