ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - An officer-involved shooting killed Philando Castile more than a year ago. His death sent shockwaves across the nation, but it also sparked a call for change, motivating members of Castile's family, including his uncle.
Wednesday, 15 new St. Paul Police reserve cadets graduated after more than two months of training. For Clarence Castile, it’s his way of getting justice for Philando.
“Happy, excited,” said Castile. “The whole training thing is over now. We've been at it for 10 to 11 weeks. This is the portion where the training is done, in class training. Now, we get to go out and actually serve."
Castile says he wanted to become a reserve officer a couple of years ago to learn how the department works and share that information with young people to help them stay safe during their encounters with police.
But after his nephew, Philando, was shot and killed by a St. Anthony police officer during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights last year, his mission took on an added urgency.
“If they recognize me, it’s like ‘Wow Mr. Castile. He can help out law enforcement, they must not be too bad,’” he said.
Since his nephew's death, Castile has worked for better training for officers and to improve the relationship between police and communities of color.
He believes his role as an ambassador for the St. Paul Police Department will help him do just that.
“There will be a lot of people who are surprised and that's ok,” said Castile. “Sometimes, I think about it and even I'm surprised, but it’s something I have to do and I believe I can get a really big message across in this way.”
In the end, Castile hopes joining forces with the “Thin Blue Line” will help everyone see police in a different light.
“I just want to do good things,” he said. “I've wanted to do that even before this thing happened. I want to do good things and this is a continuation of that.”
Castile and the rest of the new reserves will get five more weeks of field training after that they'll hit the streets on their own.