Tag Archives: police

Personal Safety Reminders

Our campus and local community continue to feel the impact of missing UIUC visiting scholar Yingying Zhang, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, and loved ones.

This week’s post serves as a reminder of personal safety tips and habits that can help keep you from becoming a victim. We would like to note that you are not to blame if someone commits a crime against you; however, there are several steps you can take to safeguard against being victimized. Today’s set of tips is broken into two categories, communication and awareness. Both are important elements that work together to keep you safe.

Communication

Make sure someone knows where you’re coming from, where you’re going, and when you’re supposed to get there. This is particularly important if you’re going out to a bar or a party for the night, but can also be a good practice to generally incorporate. This person can be a roommate, friend, significant other, or relative.

Call the police. Police officers get paid to investigate suspicious circumstances. If something happens to you, or you see something that seems out of the ordinary or suspicious, pick up the phone and call. You’re not inconveniencing anyone. It’s our job, and it’s what we get paid to do.

Awareness

Recognize when you’re in a situation where someone is more likely to target you. This can be when you’re standing at an ATM, walking alone on a dark sidewalk/path at night, or fumbling with your keys before you get into your vehicle or enter your apartment. Keep an eye out for anything suspicious, and if something doesn’t look or feel right, consider choosing a different route, finding a public area, or possibly calling the police.

It’s also important to think critically about situations you’re presented with. When you’re at a party or a bar, be cautious about accepting drinks that you haven’t seen prepared. If someone asks you for help that requires you to get into a vehicle or enter a house or apartment, that should definitely set off some red flags in your mind.

No one wants to live their lives dominated by fear, and that’s not what we’re suggesting. Despite the sense that social media and the daily headlines may give you, it’s ultimately not very likely that you’re going to be the victim of a serious crime. Nevertheless, there are simple, relatively unobtrusive steps you can take to further drive those odds down. If we all work together to take a little better care of ourselves and each other, hopefully we can avoid the next tragedy.

 

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Police-Student Dialog on Relations to Continue

Talk show hosts, news anchors, politicians, community leaders, and law enforcement officers routinely call for “honest, open dialogue” on police and community relations. There are valid reasons why these conversations don’t often happen or if they do, they tend to end in shouting matches. The subject is emotionally charged, and the exchange can be difficult and uncomfortable.

Building and strengthening relationships requires effort, acknowledging the need for change, and everyone being committed to accept some responsibility. Difficult? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.

The Black Student SUCCESS Project sponsored a workshop on Sept. 23 that afforded Parkland students the opportunity to engage with Parkland police officers.  Student questions were unflinching and hard-hitting.  Honest.  Skeptical.

Chief William Colbrook and Sgt. Matt Kopmann responded with respect and care and were outstanding presenters. Both leaders exhibited a genuine pride in their jobs, carefully described their roles and duties as police officers, and demonstrated a genuine understanding of concerns.

Our students stated they had more questions and wanted more time. Part two will be scheduled at a later date to continue this important conversation. Stay tuned.

[Donna Tanner-Harold is a counselor in Parkland’s Counseling and Advising Center and coordinates Black Student Success Project activities.]