Evaluating the Actions of UPD

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Published September 13, 2018
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The Montclarion
A screenshot from the video shot by Jaffer Mehdi depicts Montclair State police arriving at the scene of a fight and making multiple arrests. Photo courtesy of Jaffer Mehdi

Upon recent events at Montclair State University, fellow students and a visitor were arrested and charged for resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and simple assault. A video surfaced on Twitter displaying the climax of the situation where many officers arrived at the scene with their guns drawn and pointed at the young men.

My initial thoughts when watching the video from my Twitter timeline was that I needed more context to understand the full situation. The video in front of me only showed a chunk of the narrative that now eludes to a misconception of the University Police Department.

During the beginning of the altercation, one of the young men refused to obey the officers’ orders of putting his hands above his head, causing an awkward situation where the officers stared at him and waited with their guns out. The young man did not oblige, thus the police officers slowly approached him with precaution. At that time, two of the officers had disarmed themselves, while one officer maintained his distance with his gun pointed.

Although the major controversy begins as the video progresses: the young man who was resisting then was tackled after the officer tried to justifiably handcuff him. Immediately afterward, a female officer and a male officer quickly put away their guns and assisted their colleague with the procedure of the arrest.

In the meanwhile, one officer kept an eye on the gentleman with his hands above his head and another officer approached the tinted backseat window of the vehicle with his gun pointed for precaution. A large sum of police officers arrived at the scene trying to assess the situation. One of the officers who arrived in the midst of the conundrum immediately dragged one of the men out of the car with little to no warning.

Some people on Twitter were livid to see such intense actions taken by the police officer:

In today’s society, the abuse of many police officers has become a common theme. The discrimination index of black males being wrongfully killed at the hands of police officers in the past has brought an excruciating amount of distrust. The conversation in-turn becomes ‘them versus us’ and that the presumptuous actions of the police officers have racial tendencies.

I do understand that police brutality is a very concerning issue, but some people are taking this situation to fit their own bias agendas.

In the video, a black male police officer did, in fact, drag the young man from the car onto the ground with brute force. However, personally, I think there were racial motives behind his actions since they were both black. The second person inside the car came out last, and he was guided by two white police officers onto the ground without the misuse of any hostile force. The officers thus proceeded to handcuff both of the men on the ground while one officer constantly pointed his gun at one of the men.

The wielding of the gun should be used as a precautionary measure when dealing with uncertain circumstances that arise, but the police officers overextended usage of the gun after reinforcements arrived at the scene was uncalled for. Most of the detainees were surrounded by two or more officers, which assured the safety of the situation. There was no need for the continued use of the guns after that point.

There needs to be a further conversation on ways to mend the relationship and let there be trust among citizens and officers. As a student here for more than two years, personally I have never had any bad encounter with a university police officer nor have I heard of such an outrageous case ever occurring at Montclair State.

Overall, the entire occurrence was uncalled for. It began with an uncivil street fight that was causing a disturbance to the community. The authorities were called to the scene and the escalation snowballed from there.

Whether it be a police officer or a law-abiding citizen, people must be responsible for their actions. There needs to be more conversation on how to better safely handle these kinds of situations.

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