Police brutality discussions are vital to progress

Police brutality discussions are vital to progress

Police brutality isn’t something people necessarily want to talk about. It’s complicated, it’s uncomfortable and it is upsetting to consider. Human-on-human violence is something we like to push away and pretend isn’t happening, but if you have turned on the news recently, you’ll see it’s a prominent issue.

Recently, Grand Valley State University’s student senate organized a panel discussion about the issue of police brutality across the nation. Looking at changing the conversation around enforcement, not only in matters of legality but also matters of historical associations, the event focused on the responsibility of ethical and fair policing at the community level.

Though this issue is much larger than the greater GVSU community, initiating the conversation at the university level is a good place to start. At GVSU, we have a police academy that enrolls potential police officers after graduation. These officers will be going out into the job force. While we are not saying these officers will be the ones committing acts of brutality, it is important to make distinctions of right and wrong in an educational sense so future officers know how to handle tricky situations. It is also important for police officers to hear out and understand the view of the citizens they are policing.

Additionally, these kind of educational experiences are making it clear that, in order to create comprehensive change, it is about more than just taking photos interacting with members of the community to prove the respect of human life is there. It is about respecting the humanity of those around us no matter the color of skin, religious preference or sexual orientation. In a country that, as of late, has focused in on issues of hate between people at both the community and administrative level, it is important to focus on changing the real issue behind police brutality; the idea that one person’s life is above another’s.

We understand, unfortunately, this is not a problem that can be changed overnight. It is going to take time, resources and dedication to create a comprehensive solution. However, if every community put forth the effort we are seeing from the GVSU student senate and police department to educate and inform those that are a part of our community, imagine the change that we could see within our own boundaries as well as the impact this could have on a nation-wide level.

When we turn on the news and see instances where mothers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons and fathers are shot down for simply the color of their skin, it is up to us to recognize the problems behind this and relate them back to the very core of society. It is our responsibility to convey the message that this will not be tolerated and instances of unnecessary violence will not be ignored. This problem is larger than police, this issue is bigger than GVSU, but it is our responsibility to be engaged, responsible and responsive to change.