Why Is Police Distrust Such An Issue?
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Politics and Activism

Why Is Police Distrust Such An Issue?

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Why Is Police Distrust Such An Issue?

Whether it's that quick tap of the brakes when you see those lights sitting on top of a car on the highway, or that unsettled feeling college students have before sporting events, the police have a scary image to most people. 

What sparked the disillusionment in the police and the feeling that cops are out to find crime in the least obvious of places? How can this relationship be improved? This is a public service that our government provides citizens to make us feel safe. On campus, there is always tension at parties when someone says, "the cops are here." However, the issue goes far beyond college campuses.

In Ferguson, Missouri, an unarmed black man was shot after an encounter with a police officer. Multiple stories from witnesses have emerged been to uncover what took place that day. Whether or not the young man, Michael Brown, was shot in self defense, or in an unjust manner, is not my statement to make. What is troubling about the case, is how quickly the public formed an alliance against the very institution that should be protecting us. Protestors lined streets of this St. Louis suburb with signs such as, "No Justice, No Peace." In fact, the protesting was growing at such an alarming rate that the Missouri National Guard was brought in. 

On a local level, college students are constantly dealing with the police. During the first Husker football game, there were police patrolling all areas of tailgating. Some people have openly expressed their disagreement with the local law enforcement. In some situations, statements have gone so far as to say that the officers are just looking to hand out tickets to receive more money. 

The UNL Police Department has acknowledged the negative attitudes that students have toward law enforcement. At my first sorority meeting this year, an officer from the UNL police introduced herself to our members while mentioning the importance of having a strong relationship with students on our  campus. On Twitter, @UNLPD is working to strengthen the misunderstandings that normally arise. This account is used to keep students informed of events that the officers see on a daily and nightly basis. This is a great way to keep everyone safe and connected with law enforcement. How can this communication be applied to other areas of our university?

One of the main concerns for students, is whether the officers care more about campus safety or busting people at parties. It is time for UNL laws enforcement officials to step up and help students understand their rights. To become well informed members of society, it is also our duty to educate ourselves. Last year, the student government organization, ASUN, began initiating discussions about different policies that the UNL Police could apply. More student organizations need to create similar dialogues.

One approach suggested was to let first time offenders of minor in possession, off without diversion. Many freshmen are just learning about how to control their drinking in college and I think it would be more useful to assist them through that process instead of scare them. The cops need to broadcast that they are available to walk students home without asking questions. These are simple ideas to make people feel safer about the police whose aim is to protect us. The police can post all they want on Twitter, but if they don't put the right foot forward when dealing with students directly, they will never make a difference.

Politicians, such as Hillary Clinton, are recognizing the seriousness of police distrust by stating, "We are better than that," after hearing about the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson. Although our campus is hours away from Ferguson, we  need to develop a closer relationship with police, unlike what is taking place in Missouri. Although this is a topic that students don't like to discuss in a positive light, it is time to step out of that bubble and come together. After all, campus safety is the most important thing students should worry about besides getting a diploma.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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