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July 06, 1998 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1998-07-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Monday Juty 6, 1998S The {Mich~igan Daily - 7

RIDING SHOTGUN
By Rick Freeman e Daily Staff Reporter

door to Yost Ice Arena stands
open, and it's shortly before I1
on a Sunday night in June.
Department of Public Safety Officer
Mark West stands outside his cruiser
waiting for another officer sent by dis-
patch to arrive.
"You better stay here" West told me.
But he's not concerned - burglars
rarely prop open doors with orange
cones. When the other DPS officer
arrives, he cracks a joke, and then they
peer into the old barn's cavernous inte-
rior. The other officer rests a wary hand
on his gun.
Sometimes, things aren't as quiet as
an empty ice arena in June.
Like this past September when more
than 25 calls flooded the DPS dispatch-
er's board.
"I think he's killing her."
"She's trying to get up, she can't."
Those were just two of the calls
that came in from the 2200 block of
Stone Drive in the early morning of
this past Sept. 23. Kevin Nelson, an
Ann Arbor resident, was stabbing his
girlfriend, then LSA senior Tamara
Williams.
A DPS officer arrived in less than
three minutes and called for him to
stop. When he did not, the officer fired
twice, fatally wounding Nelson.
Williams, too, died in surgery at
University Hospitals.
"I don't think there was a police offi-
cer in the area whose parents didn't
call," West said.
Most nights, though, are nothing to
write -- or call - home about.
The tragedy on North Campus was
the first time a DPS officer used dead-
ly force in the line of duty. There were
protests in 1990 when the University

DPS Officers Mark West (right) and Orlando FeatherStone (left) converse with each other. The two officers often patrol the cl y'
together.
Board of Regents voted to deputize the Oh. "We just checked in" she back of a police cruiser. But it was too
department. Protests that a full-fledged replied. late, so she could only laugh and offer
police force could cause violent clash- West gave them directions, but a bet- her thanks once again.
es. Those protests are long gone, but ter thought occurred to him. Not every encounter with the public
not everyone West meets is exactly "You know, if you want I can give is so painless.
thrilled to see him. you a ride," West said. "I don't care if you're Joe Homeless
People aren't always as happy as the The trio piled in the back of his who just peed down your leg or the
trio that flagged him down one night. cruiser, repeating their thanks. When president of the University, I'm going
"Can you tell us how to get to the the couple and their teen-age son - to treat you the same," West said. "With
Bellflower Hotel?" one asked. visiting the University - were let out respect."
"Do you mean the Bell Tower?" West of the back, the mother realized that Even if he has to put up with the rude
said. she was returning to her hotel in the treatment that all police officers some-

times face. Whether it's a baby-faced
21-year-old miffed at having to prove
his age or a sullen teenager sputtering
epithets as stale as a week-old donut,
"You can't take things personally,"
West said. "Once you start to take that
personally, it's time for you to get out of
there."
As he passes a group of teenagers
piling out of a car in the Church Street
parking structure, one does a quick
double-take upon spotting the maize-
and-blue cruiser.
"That's the 'I've got mom's car
tonight, and I hope I don't have to tell
her that this cop just towed it' look,"
West said.
West gets different looks from dif-
ferent people every time he works. He
recalled a time when University
President Lee Bollinger could not look
at him without breaking out in laugh-
ter.
West was new to the force and
Bollinger was new to the University. A
newspaper photographer had requested
access to the roof of Mason lall to take
some pictures of the new president
standing atop his new domain. DPS
sent West to unlock the stairs to the
roof and take Bollinger to the site of the
shoot.
""He was being really patient." West
said. The photographer made Bollinger
stand on a chair and strike all sorts of
poses.
"And then it started to rain," West
said. "But he was a great sport. Here's
the new president of the University
standing on a chair on the roof of this
building in the rain.
"And every time he looks at me, he
starts to crack up." West said.
That's worth writing home about.
Pick up the
ie ffidbign 4a ft
at these
drop spots:
Fleming Bldg., Rackham,
Athletic Dept., ISR, Law
Library, Student Publica-
tions Bldg., Michigan Union,
Angell/Mason (2 sites),
Pierpoint Commons (N.
Campus), EECS (N. Cam-
pus), E. Engin., Frieze Bldg.,
Dennison Bldg., LSA Bldg.,
Business School, Under-
graduate Library, Graduate
Library, MLB, Chem Bldg.,
CC Little, N. Campus/CC
Little bus stop dropbox,
Fifth and Liberty dropbox,
Medical School, N. Univer-
sity dropbox, Church St,
dj'QpboX, :MA t. News

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