Everyone today has their own perception of the police, especially through the media’s representation of law enforcement officials. For some, when they think about police, they think about drugs, Michael Brown, or Eric Garner. Some people even think about biases that police have against certain groups.
However, the same is not true for Chatham University’s campus police. Many of the people that I have interviewed—varying in background, race, and gender—trust that the campus police do their jobs. But they do not support the distance between students and Chatham police.
“[One thing I would change about public safety] is [them] not sitting in their cars all the time,” said first-year Madison Mlinac, who is a criminal justice major and a member of Chatham’s first male basketball team.
I too agree with this statement. I see campus police riding around in their patrol cars or even sitting in their cars, and this time could be used to get to know the students and even the faculty. If their job is to protect, then why not get to know the people that they are protecting?
Asuka Kanazawa, a sophomore international student from Japan who is majoring in English, wishes to build relationships with the campus police.
“I want to communicate with them,” she said. “It’s important, especially being [an] international student.”
Safety should definitely be a major factor for international students such as Kanazawa. These students are miles away from their homes, and Chatham and the United States and its culture are unfamiliar to them.
What we have to do is admit that there is a distance between students and campus police and try to find ways to bridge the gap between them.
In a previous meeting with the Chatham Student Government, Donald Aubrecht, Chief of Chatham’s Campus Police of four years, said, “All of the officers try to attend the sporting events, Easter egg hunts, [and other events] so that students can get to know the officers.”
This is a great way for campus police to get to know students because it lets the students know that there is a support system out there beyond their friends and peers; and also, campus police aren’t just there when something goes wrong.
I encourage all students to take advantage of campus police and get to know them especially since Chatham is a small campus. Although my mother works on campus, I still try to build relationships with other officers.
Every student I asked said that they knew Chatham’s police officers by face, but not by name. When I was in high school, this is how it started my freshman year. There were four security guards, and I didn’t get to know them until late in my sophomore year.
I ended up meeting them when I ended my friendship with a close friend at the time, which I hate to admit, because it should never take something bad happening to take advantage of the resources around you. We as students should feel obligated to have relationships with public safety because, in the end, when we need them the most, they will be there at our rescue.