Petitioners stood outside of the Student Union and Recreation Center earlier this week. Many students were asked to sign a petition to help stop police brutality. Students, with very little information, willingly signed their names.
The group petitioning advocated for an increase in police training to deal with people that have mental disabilities.
The petitioners were from an organization called 'Your Choice Petition', based out of Spokane, WA. According to Washington’s secretary of state Kim Wyman, Your Choice Petition is a for-profit organization and currently inactive with a registered business entity within the state of Washington.
Petey, one of the petition volunteers, flew here all the way from New Jersey to help out. After a marijuana smoke break at his car, Petey said, “police are trained, but not trained to deal with certain types of people, police are trained to deescalate situations by force.”
Petey then proceeded to explain what he wants to accomplish, “Honestly, we are just looking for a change, period, a change in the system.”
When asked about training cost, Petey said “Man, I don’t know” and went on “police get 40 hours a week of training, broad training, we want to add on specific training”.
Petey finished by demonstrating his insight on police encounters with the mentally Ill, “I have a clip board of examples at my house, but the situation speaks for itself. Police are too militarized right now. The police don’t protect and serve, they just enforce”.
Jordan Perrin, a law and justice major, gave a brief account of his opinion. “Legislation was already passed in 2015 to include CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) training in basic curriculum for all officers, by 2017”. Included he said, “is a 2 hour, annual refresher course for all police officers” (Douglas M. Ostling act, senate bill 53-11).
He added “The bill requires the CJTC (Criminal Justice Training Commission) to provide 40 hours of CIT in their curriculum” and explained “CTI is a community policing model, designed to improve responses for people with a mental health crisis. This program consists of communication enhancement, learning from mental health professionals, and verbal de-escalation with scenario based training”.
Jordan went on to describe the cost that the proposed training would cost. “Training cost about $1 million in state funding a year, you also have to add in travel cost (if training is off site), and labor hours for people giving lecture”. He quickly replied “Putting officers through extra hours of training won’t improve anything, but that’s not to say we can’t make things better”.
Responding to Petey’s comments about police not “protecting and serving anymore” Jordan added “To say police officers just use force and no longer protect and serve is flat out asinine”. Many students have different opinions about police brutality, and diverse ways of handling it. Petey and Jordan agreed that we always have the opportunity to make things better.