How do you feel about Police and Community Relations? – – -Tired of hearing about it? Regardless if you are or not, it is an important topic we all should be both thinking and talking about, whether it be in the classroom, in a general body meeting, or in a casual conversation with friends. So now that the topic is fresh in your head, taking into account the past four or so years (and of course beyond that), how confident do you feel with law enforcement? While you think about that, according to a June 2015 Gallup poll, in the United States confidence in police is at its lowest in 22 years. A recent Gallup poll found that, “overall, 25% of Americans say they have a great deal of confidence in the police, 27% quite a lot, 30% “some,” 16% “very little” and 2% “none.” A major reason as to why this may be the case is the constant media coverage surrounding police brutality within the United States. It is not that conflict between community members and the police has suddenly emerged but instead it, as stated previously, it has recently received constant public attention, you cannot escape it, even the Huffington Post has designated an entire section to the discussion and news related to police brutality.

The discussions have been all over our campus among administrators and students alike, but there seems to be a misconception that the hindrance between police and community members is an issue for only marginalized communities, I am here to remind you, this is an issue for everyone. Although police brutality disproportionately affects black and Latinos/Latinas, it is not a single group’s problem it is a human rights problem. According to Leonard Pitts, a columnist for The Miami Herald, “people of color seem to get it first and worst, and that deserves discussion. Still, it is too often the case that we – and I include myself – forget that the racial dimension is not the only dimension.” The U.S. is hyper-policed and hyper-surveilled with violence accompanying both.

Now that I have hopefully brought to light new information, the discussion should move beyond simply talking about the issue, but trying to solve the issue. The first step to discovering tangible solutions in approaching the problem is with a new discourse, and that is a moderated debate. The Student Association VPMA, Student Association Programming Board, Binghamton Speech and Debate and Multicultural Resource Center will be hosting a public debate today, November 4th, at 6pm in the Chamber Hall. The debate will surround police and community relations with various viewpoints that go beyond the popular rhetoric, to solutions that the whole community can benefit from.

The debate will be conducted like a presidential debate, but way more informative, believe me. It will be moderated by administrator Jazell Johnson as well as the Editor and Chief of Pipe Dream Jeffrey Twitty. The debate will also feature debaters from the Binghamton Review (Alex Carros, Thomas Casey) and BLM Protest on Campus (Lenny Herrera, Raul Cepin). Regardless of your position on police and community relations, this is an opportunity to evoke conversation about a topic that affects not only blacks and hispanics, but everyone. The hope is for by the end of the debate, or sometime in the near future, solutions be proposed towards extinguishing the police brutality problem, and a plan be composed in order to proceed accordingly.

Adina Matos

Director of Communications in the office of the Vice President for Multicultural Affairs