Johanna Vazquez Staff Writer
I don’t think I have ever sat down and had a full conversation with a police officer before. It feels almost taboo in our society to place cops off a podium of authority figures and see them as ordinary people. We sometimes have bad encounters with policemen but we tend to forget that they are not all the same. When I walked into the Student Center Cafe, I was immediately welcomed by the Chief of the Police Department, Jeff Garewski, and Lieutenant Tom Madera to grab a cup of coffee and sit down. They went around the small circle of students and staff that was beginning to assemble, and they asked us a few questions to get to know us a little bit before delving into deeper conversation. As an out-of-state student, they asked me how I liked Eastern so far and what improvements I saw in need.
I was pleasantly surprised with how easily the conversation flowed within the small group. Many interesting topics were touched upon. The policemen described the tedious process of selecting law enforcement applicants. They warned us about the influence social media had in determining if one could get a law enforcement or any other government job. I did not know they could even look at deleted posts from your account. Towards the end, we got to discuss school shootings in light of the recent national tragedy in Parkland, Florida. Is there a way to truly control the gun issue? It was really interesting having a Chief of the Police Department ask us, students with no profession in criminology, for our opinion on the matter. He is confident that we will be the generation to resolve the issue. I did not feel uncomfortable at any point in the conversation, not even when they started to speak on law enforcement on campus. They sought to point out that their goal was not to stain our personal records. They understood what it was like to be young, and they wanted to help us learn rather than suffer in the future from our mistakes. Of course, there are certain arrests and detentions that are inevitable to avoid.
Lieutenant Tom Madera was the one to approach Chief Garewski about hosting this event on campus after being inspired by National Coffee with a Cop Day. He thought it would be a good way to reach student body concerns and to cultivate personal interactions. “The purpose of Coffee with a Cop is to spread awareness about what the police department does on campus and to talk openly about ongoing issues, or the things people are otherwise afraid to talk about,” says Lieutenant Madera. “This event is able to take place thanks to coffee provided by Chartwells.” Both cops genuinely appeared open-minded and cared about what everyone had to say.
They sought to point out their goal was not to stain our personal records. They understood what is was like to be young, and they wanted to help us learn rather than suffer in the future from out mistakes.
Chief Garewski emphasized the importance of communication between the student community and the police department. Complaints have surfaced surrounding the shuttle service system from students through staff members. The police department provides the services, and these complaints could have been resolved faster if they were to have been directed to the police department first. “It’s important to us that you [the students] share things on your mind. You can always call the department and ask to speak with a dispatcher,” addressed Chief Garewski. The Coffee with a Cop events are set to occur once a semester with alternating times, therefore be on the lookout! Your opinion is valid here. Get to know those who are sworn to protect you and ensure your safety.