Growing up, I always thought cops were people worthy of respect. They seemed pretty impressive; they were strong men and women with guns, and they always seemed capable of catching the bad guys.
I never wanted to be the robbers when my friends and I played Cops and Robbers because being a cop was just too cool of a chance to pass up.
Fast forward to middle school and my first run-in with the police. Some jerk around the school was dealing drugs and the cops were called to investigate. They came into my classroom and demanded that we tell them where the kid was. Unfortunately for the cops, they busted into a small class of around six kids, all of them honors students taking an advanced class.
When one of the cops gave a status report, he said, “[I] just wasted about five minutes with some uncooperative kids.”
We were the dorks of the school. We had no clue who was dealing drugs.
Fast forward to college. I knew what I was getting into when I decided to come to Florida A&M University. As Rattlers, we have plenty of spirit, but we aren’t the safest bunch students. Fights break out, rooms get robbed, and in some cases, weapons are drawn.
My thoughts of cops as knights in shining armor imploded a long time ago, but I at least thought I could count on my own campus’ police force to handle a situation with some level of poise.
One situation in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication was scary, not because of what may or may not have been going on, but because of how the police investigating handled it.
Guns drawn, they stalked around the building not informing anyone of the danger of an alleged assailant on the loose. Checking room by room, they scanned the building for possible threats, totally ignoring the concerned looks on students’ faces.
When the time finally came to scan the Famuan office, a cop, a man charged with the safety of the student body looked us in the eye and said five simple words.
“Sit down and shut up.”
No words of reassurance, no reason for the men with guns searching a school of hardworking students.
I still don’t have a clear view of what was going on that night, and I’m probably better off never knowing. One thing is clear to me though: Police need to remember whom they’re dealing with. It’s one thing to deal with hardened criminals, and another to deal with terrified students.
As cops, it’s your job to protect and serve, and no matter how stressful the situation, a certain level of decorum must be maintained, otherwise you’re just men with guns, scaring others into obeying you. Almost like the people you’re hunting down.
Jordan Culver is a freshmen newspaper student from Philadelphia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.