Being judged by the behavior of a few – that’s our biggest challenge.
“Public perception – who we are and what we’re doing, being judged by the behavior of a few – that’s our biggest challenge. The actions we take to counter that image is to continue doing good things and hiring quality people – and not passing on bad apples. Just getting out and talking to people like normal human beings. It’s hard – the under the breath comments of racial profiling … I’m on the parking review committee, and in a meeting a student, in her appeal she writes that she’s sure she got this ticket because she’s black. She wrote ‘White privilege!!!’ on her appeal. Where did that come from? There is nothing about who a person is on a parking ticket – no box for age or race.
“So, you just keep doing your job and treating everyone fairly and honestly. Being honest. That’s the main thing.”
It’s the little things that make the job rewarding.
“I don’t know that there’s one moment. It’s all the little stuff that makes the job rewarding – when everything comes together, when everyone ‘gets it’ at the same time, then we’re best able to serve. That’s why I’m here.
“For example, we had a ‘Take Back the Night’ event recently; the women’s center on campus organized it. They invited the ADA who prosecutes sex crimes, me and some students to speak at the event. The main speaker canceled at the last minute, so the organizer was rushing around trying to find someone to speak, but instead of one speaker, we all ended up filling in and speaking. We didn’t rehearse; we didn’t talk about what we were going to say with one another. And yet we all said things that played off one another. We said the right things at the right time, it played out beautifully with no coordination. No one could believe it wasn’t rehearsed. It was a really amazing night.”
We’re not superhuman.
“It’s not like it looks on TV. Police officers are people with feelings and fears; we’re not superhuman, we make split-second life or death decisions sometimes.
“I’d like to say something to my fellow officers as well: You have to hold yourselves accountable and your department accountable for the actions of other officers – we don’t want to work with these people. They bring us all down. They bring our communities down. And that’s not why we chose to serve.”
–Rebecca Chiles, Director of Campus Public Safety, Western Oregon University