The Epsilon Psi Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity hosted a police conduct panel at Adele H. Stamp Student Union to discuss police brutality and how to stay safe on campus Oct. 12.
Senior civil and environmental engineering major Kye Hodge, the fraternity president, contacted panelists as well as moderated the discussion, which also included audience questions and commentary.
Panelists included Magistrate Judge Charles Bernard Day, Major Kenneth Calvert and University of Maryland student activist and sociology major Colin Byrd.
Day, Calvert and Byrd discussed citizens’ rights, laws about filming arrest, the act of taking phones into police custody for evidence and how officers handle recently heightened sensitivity towards police brutality given its now racially-charged reputation.
“Every officer gets trained on how to handle these issues. But just like you, as a college student, might not get everything while sitting in on a lecture, some of these officers don’t get everything in their training,” Calvert said.
Calvert also spoke on the fact that his officers are trained to aim for the “largest portion of what you can see of that person” when necessary to shoot a person.
“We don’t teach ‘shoot to kill’, never have. We teach shoot to stop,” Calvert said. “Those esoteric things you learned shooting on the range are out the window in these stressful situations. We want to get it to the point where it’s extremely rare to pull out a gun, much less fire one.”
However, Byrd stated that in incidents regarding African Americans, authoritative figures frequently demonstrate a “guilty until proven innocent”‘ attitude during the panel.
Major Calvert responded later. “We are here to protect and serve you,” he said. “We’re not perfect either, but if you have an issue, do not hesitate to bring it forward.”
Hodge thinks those who attended now have a new level of respect and trust for the College Park Police Department and have ways of dealing with situations to stay alive.
Hodge hoped to use the time to mediate a healthy conversation between citizens and law enforcement and provide both parties with more information.
“My ultimate goal for this program was to mainly answer people’s questions. Most people are not going to walk up to a police officer and indulge them in conversation, or even have a chance to meet a judge. So this was the perfect time to maximize the opportunity and be heard,” Hodge said.
“I also wanted to inform the police officer and judge on how young adults feel and think so that they can utilize this in their day-to-day work. I believe we achieved both of these goals and then some,” he added.
“We’ve got to have these discussions to perfect the system even more,” Day said during the panel. “We do have problems and we have to continue to speak out.”