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From volunteering at a mall to podcasting: A teen’s unexpected journey into police advocacy

Jasur Talipov’s experiences at a police substation inspired him to start a podcast that challenges negative perceptions of law enforcement through thoughtful discussions

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Jasur Talipov pictured with Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma.

Hosting a pro-police podcast isn’t the usual high school side gig, but Jasur Talipov isn’t your usual high school senior, or law enforcement advocate.

His father is an accountant, not a cop. He doesn’t have any relatives in law enforcement at all, or family friends either. He’s not planning to study criminal justice when he enters the University of Florida next fall. Instead, he’ll study political science with an eye to an eventual career in law, a fitting extension of his history in competitive debate and chess.

So how did he get from “teenager with several siblings” to “budding public personality”?

A mall volunteer shift inspires a policing podcast

When Talipov volunteered at a police substation in a shopping mall to get out of the house in 2020, he learned to answer common questions from citizens and process fingerprints for job applicants. Every aspiring college student wants public service hours, and he liked the officers he met. It was an easy fit.

He knew that relationships between the public and law enforcement could be tense but he didn’t expect what he saw. Shoppers entered the mall, saw the word “POLICE” on the window and reacted: some took pictures, while others looked taken aback and turned to walk away, maybe to find a different entrance or maybe just to leave.

The negative reactions startled the ninth grader. He saw the police as protectors. Why would shoppers react negatively when they saw officers in a storefront, designed to make it easier to interact with them? Talipov found answers all over the internet, in riots after George Floyd’s death, editorials advocating for abolishing police and politicians voting to defund one department after another.

“No, I don’t have any connection to law enforcement through family or friends, but I saw that officers had no voice in the news, in the defund the police movement,” Talipov said. “No one was interviewing them.”

Frustrated by the disconnect between the officers he knew and the public messaging he saw everywhere, Talipov founded a nonprofit to correct miscommunications and mistrust between the community and police. He created and hosts the podcast Trust the Badge, where officers, politicians and other community members tell their stories, answer questions and begin to rebuild relationships.

Highlighting diverse perspectives in law enforcement

The podcast has run for two years now and Talipov intends to continue as he begins his college career. He is an intense and well-spoken host, as careful to listen as he is in crafting his questions.

Topics depend on his guests. So far, those guests have included police chiefs, sheriffs, retired FBI agents, retired Bureau of Indian Affairs officers, Border Patrol agents and a congressman from Kentucky. Talipov has hosted discussions with airport police, school resource officers and a former Secret Service agent. One guest was a community affairs officer and state trooper from Pennsylvania. He’d like to talk to more “regular” officers but acknowledges that they are rarely able to speak freely, constrained as they are by agency media policies.

One guest, Tampa financier and former pro football player Andre P. Kirwan, brought some outside perspective as a local citizen discussing interactions with officers. The episode was engaging and enlightening as Kirwan shared insights gained as a community member whose interactions with police haven’t always been congenial. Nevertheless, he expressed both his concerns and his attempts to understand those interactions in good faith, in a level and calm manner. The young host asked civil and salient questions, and listened carefully as Kirwan answered.

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Jasur Talipov pictured with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Learning from each episode

I asked Talipov what his biggest surprise so far has been, and he said that came during his interview with Kirwan. The banker described being pulled over by an officer who pointedly asked his (white) female companion if she was OK and then wanted clarification that she was in the car of her own free will. The incident was resolved peacefully, but it was faintly shocking to Talipov. His guest was irritated and insulted, yet controlled his reaction both at the scene, and while describing the stop on the podcast. Talipov learns something new from each guest. This time, he learnt that the gap he strives to close looks different from multiple angles.

I’d like to see more episodes on more podcasts like this one: open doors, open minds and an utter lack of gotcha moments on either side.

Future aspirations

I also asked Talipov for ideas on his dream guests. Who hasn’t he talked with yet, that he’d really like to? “The president of the National Fraternal Order of Police,” he said. “I have a lot of questions for him. I’d like to talk with a First Amendment auditor. And I’d really like to talk with some of the ACAB crowd: What’s going on in their heads? Why do they believe what they do?”

“I really want to give law enforcement a voice, a chance to speak, and also community members. I try to stay as center as possible,” Talipov said. “I genuinely believe that most officers are here to protect and serve, not as threats. I also genuinely believe that Trust the Badge can become a national organization.”

Talipov plans to expand on the podcast’s current format, anticipating a series of town hall events where he can moderate discussions between officers and community members. It’s a big goal, but he’s already made big progress. For a high school student to be profiled on local news and get to meet politicians from Florida’s governor to former presidents is out of the ordinary - but ordinary doesn’t make change and Talipov intends to change things, for the better.

You can hear his podcast and watch it grow on multiple streaming platforms. Click here to listen now.

Kathleen Dias writes features and news analysis on topics of concern to law enforcement professionals serving in rural and remote locations. She uses her background in writing, teaching and marketing to advocate for professional levels of training and equipment for rural officers, open channels of communication for isolated departments, and dispel myths about rural policing. She’s had a front-row seat observing rural agencies – local, state and federal – from the Sierra foothills to California’s notorious Emerald Triangle, for more than 30 years.