The Eastern Michigan University Department of Public Safety invited students to meet and mingle with its officers on Tuesday afternoon as part of an effort to break down barriers between police and the community.
The event, a collaboration between DPS, Student Government, the Center for Multicultural Affairs and the Black Student Union, was held in room 300 of the Student Center. Its purpose was to allow EMU students and the officers to walk away with a better understanding of one another.
“We just want to be open to our community here on campus,” EMU Chief of Police Bob Heighes said. “The community is part of us and we’re part of the community. This is kind of an opportunity for an informal get-together, just to sit down and talk to one another.”
Students and other community members were free to converse with the officers who were scattered throughout the room. Light refreshments were provided.
BSU President Domonique McGhee, a senior social work major, hoped the meet and greet would help build a healthy relationship between the campus community and the police force, especially in light of recent tragedies. She wanted attendees to know that not all police officers are bad and that they can feel safe at EMU.
“Over the recent months, there have been a lot of cases of police brutality around the nation and people not caring about human lives, and we just wanted to make sure that everyone on campus felt comfortable with the people that are supposed to protect and serve them,” she said.
Student Body President Desmond Miller echoed McGhee’s sentiments.
“This event came out of a lot of students feeling like there was a lack of communication between DPS and the student body, especially in light of what’s going on in Ferguson,” he said. “So to prevent things like that from happening, we wanted to build a stronger community between our police officers and the student body. I work with them all the time so I know they’re great, but it’s just about making sure that students know that they can feel comfortable talking to our police officers.”
Jim Tran, a freshman psychology major, said that events like the meet and greet are important to foster a positive relationship between the community and the police, especially when media often vilifies officers.
“We have this misinterpretation in this day and age, where you see a police officer and if you do something bad, they’ll probably shoot you on sight,” Tran said. “Everyone’s trying to get to know their local police officer and get acquainted with them, so this false image or fear they have toward officers goes away.”