Public forums improve police-student relations.
On Nov. 3, dozens of students, staff and Davis community members marched from the Memorial Union to the UC Davis Police Station as part of the “Divest, Disarm: Davis for Black Lives” protest. The protest, which followed suit with the national “Black Lives Matter” movement, demanded that the university disarm its campus police and divest from private prisons.
The protest’s demands come on the heels of several recent incidents regarding police brutality on school campuses. Last month, a South Carolina police officer was terminated from his position after a viral video showed him slamming an African American female student against the ground during a violent arrest at Spring Valley High School.
On a more local level, in August, UC Davis police forcibly detained an African American alum for using the 24-hour study room on the basis that he is not currently a student. The recent protest also reminds UC Davis community members of the still salient 2011 pepper-spray incident that occurred on the same quad Tuesday’s protesters marched across.
Police brutality is not a new issue that the country is facing. People of all backgrounds, particularly minorities, and from all over the world have been voicing concern against this injustice for years. However, incidents like this, noted above, remind students that these violent crimes can occur on our very own campus — in seemingly safe places like the library and by trusted individuals like campus police.
While Tuesday’s protest successfully publicized the need to hold the university and campus police accountable for their actions, the Editorial Board believes that UC Davis’ recently implemented police forums are also a valuable option for keeping the police department’s behavior in check year-round.
The forums, which began the past January, are planned by several campus organizations, including ASUCD, the Cross Cultural Center and administrators at the UC Davis Police Department, to provide students and Davis community members with a safe space to address concerns with local law enforcement.
The effort, which seems to be a relatively unknown resource on campus, is a valuable way for students to voice their opinions and communicate directly with campus police about the questions that they deserve answers to and the issues that they demand to see fixed. Conversation is key to keep any organization or individual transparent and accessible, and since the forums are open to the public, we encourage the community to utilize this potential policy-changing opportunity.
Tuesday’s peaceful protest was a promising start toward opening up the university’s eyes to police violence on campus, but daily demonstrations are not realistic. However, it is realistic for there to be ongoing conversation in order to strengthen the relationship between police and students.