By Robert Nunez
All eyes are still on the Ferguson Police Department due to the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, which is still under investigation. It has ignited a nationwide conversation and has caused some divide between the Ferguson community and their police department, but how does this transcend into a community like ours? Robert Nunez has the story.
For some college students, contacting the local police may not be the first option in emergency situations. Students and local police can sometimes be distant from one another, but having a mutual respect can be the starting point of a positive and beneficial relationship.
Lexie Wilson and Kristen Vranich are both underclassmen at Texas State University and believe that police officers should treat college students as regular residents and not perceive them as being irresponsible or careless. Vranich, whose father is in law enforcement, says there is a fine line between students and police officers.
“I definitely think they have us all in a stereotype. They all think we’re the same and we’re definitely not,” Vranich said.
Both Wilson and Vranich have had different experiences with the local police department, both good and bad. Wilson says being intimidated by police should dissuade college students from relying on local police.
“I’ve been here longer than her, so I think that a lot of people are scared to contact cops and they’re suppose to be the people to help you. And I think it’s kind of messed up that these days people are scared to rely on them,” Wilson said.
San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp says that safety is everyone’s responsibility and no one should be afraid of contacting the police for emergency matters.
“The best way to keep the community safe is for everybody to be thinking about safety and crime prevention,” Stapp said.
Both Vranich and Wilson understand the duties of police officers, but feel that slight changes in communication could make a big difference among students and local police.
“There’s a fine line between being comfortable with them and them still doing their job… I think it’s also their tone, like the way they talk to us college kids is a lot more like they talk down on us. I feel like if they talk more on our level it will help a lot,” Wilson and Vranich said.
Stapp said the majority of police contacts are mostly positive and hopes that college students see the police department as a helpful resource.
“We take pride in our relationship with the people that we serve here in San Marcos whether they’re students or non-students. I think our officers are very accustomed to dealing with people and treating people with respect and dignity and people should feel very comfortable to call our department regardless what kind of help they need,” Stapp said.
One of the ways the police department is reaching out to the community is by organizing a community welcome, where officers and community leaders come together and knock on doors introducing new residence to the city, including welcoming students back and telling them about the expectation here in San Marcos.
For KTSW News I’m Robert Nunez.
Good Cop, Bad Cop?