TCU police advise students on encounters with the law

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After more than a year of high-profile police stops – some ending in death – TCU officers met with students, reminding them that being “respectful and cooperative” are key to keeping these situations from escalating.

The event was sponsored by the Black Student Association to bring awareness to students about their rights when involved with police officers.

“There’s a lot that has been going on in the media, and we felt the need to help students learn what their rights are,” BSA President Mequilla Powell said. “We wanted students around campus to know their rights as citizens and how the fourth amendment can protect them.”

Sgt. Cathy Moody and Officer Mitch Felder from TCU Police answered questions about how students should respond in situations with police. The question most asked was how to act if they are pulled over by a cop.

BSA gave students sticky notes with questions on them that they could ask the officers.
BSA gave students sticky notes with questions on them that they could ask the officers.

“I just wanted to  have a good understanding of what I should and should not do with police officers,” said Michael Washington, a junior nursing major.

Moody told students, “the best thing you can do is be cooperative and respectful.”

If a police officer is disrespectful, students have options.

“You can always ask for their badge number,” Moody said.

In terms of racial profiling occurring on or off campus, Felder said he was there to support students and help them however he can.

“If you see something going on that you feel is wrong, you have an advocate,” said Felder.

“I got all my questions answered,” Washington said. “I’m glad I came, and I think more students should come to these events.”

Washington was just one of two men in the audience on Wednesday, which Moody said was unfortunate.

“I’m disappointed that there weren’t more men here,” said Moody. “They are missing out on having their voice heard.”

However, even with the shortage of male participants, the students still received a valuable message.

Officer Felder stressed the importance of staying calm and cooperating with the police in stressful situations, especially in light of confrontations with cops that have been shown in the news.

“The things that Martin Luther King did were non-violent,” said Felder. “People say, ‘Well, they were non-violent, but look where it got them,’ but look what it got us, and look how far we’ve come.”

In May of 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland, an African American man was arrested and later ended up in a coma and dying a week after the arrest. Freddie Gray had been in good health before he was arrested. This prompted many violent protests and the spread of violence in Baltimore and around the country.

The death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012 sparked the “#BLACK LIVES MATTER” movement. Since 2012 the movement has raised awareness about African Americans like Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York City, and Sandra Brown in Waller County, Texas.

However, police brutality is not limited to African Americans.

In September, 17-year-old white male Bryce Masters was severely injured after being stunned with a Taser by police at a traffic stop in Independence, Missouri.

These events and their subsequent concerns about how to handle situations with police officers prompted the BSA to have this event.

BSA member Jasmine Tucker agreed that despite what is happening in the media, all students should understand their rights.

“There are people who go off of what the media feeds us, and we see certain things, and it’s sad, but sometimes I feel like it could be avoided if only we knew our rights and were more educated,” said Tucker. “I don’t want to respond the wrong way and it causes me my life. We need to be taught how to handle things the appropriate way.”

Both Felder and Moody expressed that if students had questions or concerns, the department’s doors are always open. They also noted that despite the police brutality that has been prevalent in the news, they are working hard to do their job with the utmost valor.

“I’m proud to be a police officer, and I feel even more of a commitment to be a police officer when bad things are happening because the worst thing for me to do would be to get out,” said Moody. “Then the bad guy is winning if he is chasing all the good ones away.”

The most important message that they conveyed was that they are on campus to protect the students, and that the department’s doors are always open if people have questions or concerns.

“We don’t have power because we carry a gun or hold a badge,” said Felder. “The only reason we have power is because you guys have entrusted us to keep you safe, and that is what we want to do.”