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Bridging the Gap

by Rebecca Serviss

In the wake of the recent viral video of a campus arrest, the brothers of Phi Beta Sigma hosted their second annual Oh Shot It’s the Cops event on Tuesday night to reassure the trust of the Montclair State University Police Department (UPD).

Retired New Jersey police Capt. Ronald Rivera was accompanied by two current UPD officers: Sgt. Kaluba Chipepo and Officer Amanda Rusticus. The trio answered questions from students and shared their experiences during arrests.

Rivera wanted to take away some stigma that people associate with law enforcement by playing a series of videos demonstrating different types of commonly encountered police interactions. It was a reminder to students that during an arrest, police officers are just as scared as other citizens. They only want to do their job and go back home to their loved ones just like anyone else, but it is their job to keep the community safe first. Rivera advised to remain calm. When a person does not comply with an officer’s instructions, it signals a potential danger, and police officers need to protect themselves.

Chipepo explained the risk that the police go through during these scenarios.

“We understand that crime can happen anywhere,” Chipepo said. “They run the risk of being shot the more they are not being compliant.”

Former police officer Ronald Rivera speaks to students about the police perspective during a detainment.
Rebecca Serviss | The Montclarion Photo credit: Rebecca Serviss

The officers said that they take feedback seriously. If a student complains about the way they were treated during an arrest, they have a right to notify the department. According to Rusticus, the UPD looks into each case and it can lead to consequences for the officers involved, including suspension.

Students attended the event with the purpose of bridging the gap between them and police officers. Vice President of Phi Beta Sigma Anthony Wright said police brutality is an issue close to home.

“As an African-American male, I feel that it is important that we all know how to interact [with law enforcement], since we’ve been seeing all of the events within the past few years [where] black males get killed by officers,” Wright said.

Anthony Wright (left) and Dalvin Sejour (right) introduce Ronald Rivera, a former police officer, to speak.
Rebecca Serviss | The Montclarion Photo credit: Rebecca Serviss

He helped organize the event to have students understand an officer’s point of view during an arrest.

“We should give the student body a chance to hear where [the police officers] are coming from,” Wright said.

President of Phi Beta Sigma Dalvin Sejour hopes that this event is the beginning of a new relationship between students and law enforcement.

“I hope that we bridge the gap between officers and the student body on campus,” Sejour said. “We want to de-escalate that situation.”


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