Report of Students for Police Accountability and Responsibility (SPAR)
To: Police Services Community Review Board
From: Raffael Boccamazzo
I am writing this on behalf of the Students for Police Accountability and Responsibility to discuss our findings in going door-to-door to inquire to students as to their thoughts on the prospect of arming the Evergreen Police twenty-four hours a day. Our findings were surprising given the feeling that we were going to run into quite a bit of anti-gun voices from the students.
In chatting with five or six dorms in buildings N, J, T, R, and S, it has been discovered that the arming itself is not as much an issue as originally thought. The arming issue was brought up by a few people, but as suspected, these people were predominantly the voices of those who opposed guns in every way. Most of these people expressed the opinion that for anyone to own a gun was wrong and that the police shouldn't be encouraging this image.
The vast majority of students assumed that the police were already armed around the clock and simply expressed an overwhelming desire to have positive interactions with the police on campus and to know them a little better. When asked about the community policing policies of the campus police, almost all of the students expressed that they were not aware of any community policing policies. This lack of awareness with the policies of campus police seemed to be the prevalent theme in all of our interactions.
The things that he students seem most concerned about are: a) the trustworthiness of the campus police, b) the demeanor of the campus police, and c) interactions with campus police. All three of these concerns seem to play into each other on some level, but they are all factors that seemed to be separately crucial to the image of Evergreen's Police Services.
Many of the students that we interviewed felt that the police have not performed any actions to earn their trust. Some students replied with the idea that all that the police do is hand out speeding tickets and arrest kids for having open containers, so why should they be rewarded with guns? Most of the evidence that students who expressed this sentiment gave was hearsay and rumor, but the impression is made. These students feel that the police are too pro-active in seeking out crime and are willing to arrest students for any infraction, no matter how small. Some of these students even believe that the police have quotas of arrests that they need to make each month.
This is where it starts to tie into the other two concerns. After discussing these concerns with the students, several of those students wanted to know why they aren't trying to fix this perception problem by being more approachable. They reported that the very demeanor of the police force on campus is one of intimidation. Several of the students reported that they have approached one of the officers to say hi only to be treated coldly. They said that this adds to the feelings of distrust that already exist.
The third concern of students was a difficult one for some students to express because they realize that this would require more work, but they would like the police to initiate interactions in a casual setting. One of the suggestions would be to have a police sponsored event or to even wave as they drive by. They felt that this would offer an opportunity to get to know the officers.
Basically the major issue with the police that the students have is not the potential of having them armed twenty-four hours a day. As previously stated, most students assumed that the police were already armed twenty-four hours a day. The issues seem to be trust and communication. They feel that there is no communication of any kind that the police have the students concerns in mind, and that adds to the feeling that the police are not trustworthy. While I certainly don't feel this way, many students do, and their perception becomes the reality on campus; a division between the police and the students. It then becomes an us-versus-them feeling instead just us, as most students feel it should be.