Forum works to improve police, student relations

On Jan. 22 at 6:30 p.m., the FAMU chapter of the NAACP held a forum where students voiced concerns about local law enforcement tactics.

Panelists at the meeting in Perry Paige auditorium included: Walter McNeil, Tallahassee police chief; Larry Campbell, Leon county sheriff and Michael Wallace, FAMU’s Deputy Chief of Police.

Jonathan Quarles, president of the FAMU chapter of the NAACP asks that students keep an open line of communication with local police about their actions.

“I would like the student body to maintain open lines of communication with TPD and I anticipate hearing the reasons for their actions because some of them may very well be justified,” said Quarles, a junior business administration student from Flint, MI.

Most concerns related to the management of FAMU’s past homecomings and how to facilitate them better in the future. Students questioned blocked streets and detours, overbearing mall surveillance and police concentration at club “let-outs” (the social gathering of people after clubs).

“We have a responsibility to make sure motorists and pedestrians are safe,” McNeil said about student concerns with the treatment of club let-outs.

Students expressed feelings of alienation because of police tactics. In addition, students addressed the inconsistent police relations between Florida State and FAMU.

“I tell all my officers, you have to gauge [the situation] on what you see, not based on preconceived notions,” McNeil said. He advised students to do the same when dealing with law enforcement.

The Tallahassee Police Department invites students to join its homecoming committee that will impact the decisions made for upcoming festivities.

Deputy Wallace encouraged students to “Take action! See what is going on and become a part of the solution.”

Wallace and McNeil also said that if students dislike an officer’s behavior, they should submit the proper forms or call the internal affairs office for the respective department. Positive police interaction with students will prove beneficial.

Although the forum appeased the students who participated in it, few students attended.

“The forum was a good idea,” said Monica High, 21, a junior biology student from Charlotte NC. “I was disappointed with the turnout because we complain about the issues but when the opportunity presented itself, few people showed up.”

Yolanda Reid can be reached at