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March 26, 1998 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-03-26

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BA - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 26, 1998

Continued from Page IA
Minorities speak out
Emmil said she was greeted with police offi-
cers' racism after returning to school this fall.
She was in front of South Quad Residence Hall
with seven of her friends when an officer
approached the group.
"The police came up to us and told us to leave
because we were being too loud," Emmil said. "It
wasn't like we were yelling. We were just standing
out there talking. A week later there were 50 white
people out there screaming and yelling and the
cops didn't do anything."
Not all people of color at the University said
they feel the problem is so severe.
Danielle Baker, president of the University's
chapter of the NAACP, said most Ann Arbor
Police Department and Department of Public
Safety officers treat students fairly. She said the
NAACP has not received any formal complaints
about police prejudice.
But Baker said she has encountered certain
officers who act improperly toward members of
the minority community.
"When I was a sophomore, I stayed at Geddes
Hill (Apartments) and had a party," said Baker,
an LSA senior. "A set of officers came and gave

us a ticket for being too loud.
"Two weeks after that, one of the officers (who
gave us a ticket) came up to our apartment to tell
us to turn our TV down. It wasn't even that loud,"
she said.
Baker said the "incident was a shock," and
said she was incensed by police actions that she
said seemed to stem from racism.
LSA sophomore Kenneth Jones said police
racism is not isolated and minorities on cam-
pus receive "inferior" treatment. A large pres-
ence of DPS officers at minority events proves
that the police do not trust racial minorities, he
"One of the (black) sororities had given a
party at the Union," said Jones, chair of the
Michigan Student Assembly's Minority Affairs
Commission. "This was the first party I went to
this year, and I counted something like 13 offi-
cers there. That says something to me. When I
went to some of the gay parties (of the same
size) on campus, there were no officers there,"
Jones said.
Nevertheless, some minority students said
they see a stark contrast between local police
and more hostile law enforcement agencies in
their hometowns.
Baker said Ann Arbor police are more friend-
ly toward minority communities than agencies in

urban and southern locales.
"Ann Arbor is not your typical place," Baker
said. "In Detroit and in the South it's another
Cultural diversity
AAPD Sgt. Larry Jerue said attitudes. that
develop during a person's lifetime often lead to
the misconception that police are prejudiced.
He said the negative opinions some citizens
have formed about their local police often stem
from past incidents, and he stressed that Ann
Arbor officers always respond to a call profes-
sionally and without bias.
"One apple can spoil the whole bunch," said
Jerue, referring to the negative impact one racist
officer can have. "You see something on the
south side of Chicago and that'll effect your per-
ception of police everywhere."
DPS Sgt. Benny Chenevert said DPS is taking
steps to address how officers deal with minori-
ties. He said officers must consider cultural
diversity when reacting to situations.
"A major thing (for officers) to keep in mind is
to be respectful of themselves and others,"
Chenevert said. "We've increased the amount of
diversity training and we're looking at several
programs to heighten cultural awareness."
Chenevert said DPS has initiated outreach

programs and cnommunity-o riented policing to
establish a report with minority and other stu-
dent groups.
But he said outreach has been difficult
because many people do not understand the role
of DPS.
"We're a young department," Chenevert said.
"I think a lot of people don't realize we're a full
service agency.'
AAPD officer Wilma Pursell said the compo-
sition of Ann Arbor's police force is similar to
that of the community at-large. In addition to
sensitivity training, she said daily interaction
within a diverse group of AAPD officers helps
officers dispel any cultural misconceptions they
may have had before they were hired.
"I applaud our efforts to be sensitive,' Pursell
said. But "because the community is so diverse,
I think perception is a big issue. I'm a black
female. My perception is not what a black male
or even a white male might have."
What lies ahead
Chenevert said it i- important for students to
realize that most officers enter the police force
with a desire to help people and contribute to the
"One of the reasons I got into (this) work is I
wanted to be part of the good of police as

opposed to the negative experience (I had) grow
ing up in Detroit with the riots of the 1968;
Chenevert said.
But minority students on campus agree that
some of the problems that were present in 1968
still exist today.
These problems will not be solved overnight,.
and Jones said things will not improve if the sta-
tus quo is maintained. He said that establishing
a dialogue between police and minority groups
is an appropriate first step.
Jones said that working with the Michiga
Student Assembly would allow DPS to reach out.
to the majority of campus minority groups.
"Since I'm chair of MSA's Minority Affairs,
Commission, we have a direct link to minority
groups on campus," Jones said. DPS "has not
made any contact with us, and I feel like we.
need to seek them out and make contact with,
AAPD and DPS officials said they have
worked in recent years to expand their outreach
programs, but Jones said he believes minoritX
students' concerns are not being properl
"I would like AAPD and DPS officers to do-
something proactive and reach out to minority
groups," he said. "I don't feel safe from any
police on campus.'

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