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Students grill campus police chief Wiegand with ‘Tough Questions’

It’s not every day that students are given the opportunity to question a police officer, but at this year’s third ‘Tough Questions’ session, students were given the chance.

The jobs and inner workings of the campus police department were thoroughly discussed by both Police Chief Jim Wiegand and students at the session created by M. Neil Browne, Ph.D.

Among an assortment of different topics, the question of whether the campus police are seen as actual police officers took precedent.

Wiegand responded by stressing the fact that the campus police department is seen by many officials as a professional police department.

According to Wiegand, the officers have the right to stop any student on campus if they see something suspicious. They also are able to ask for student IDs and issue citations.

‘A lot of students – especially incoming ones – think that our officers are just security officers,’ Wiegand said. ‘When they take your liberty away, you realize they’re real cops.’

Wiegand also mentioned that all officers brought into the department are put through a 14-week field-training program in order to associate them with the BGSU campus and culture.

And though some students felt the campus police wouldn’t offer the same opportunities as a city department, Wiegand said that it was actually the opposite.

‘I have one officer who has worked with me for six or seven years and at one time had applied for a job in suburban Toledo,’ Wiegand said. ‘He was the first one chosen for the job, but in the end he decided to stay here.’

According to Wiegand, the officer felt the technology used by the campus police was similar to the city police. He also mentioned that the pay was relatively similar.

Wiegand also noted that many officers stick with the campus police due to safety issues.

‘The only time I’ve ever been concerned for my safety is when a guy had a gun pointed at my head,’ he said. ‘I wasn’t sure if he was going to pull the trigger. Clearly, he didn’t.’

In light of the recent attacks on college campuses, Wiegand also addressed ways to stay safe if a crisis were ever to occur on campus.

According to the police chief, the safest way to avoid injury is to have a plan of action ahead of time.

‘You must be prepared for the unthinkable,’ he said. ‘If I walk into this room with a gun and you all duck, I can do whatever I want to you.’

Instead, Wiegand suggested throwing anything within reach at the shooter, including water bottles and pop cans. He also noted that if confronted by the shooter, it is important to fight for your life.

Senior Caleb Lohr, a resident adviser working in Offenhauer, thought the discussion surrounding safety issues on campus was the most important issue discussed at the event.

‘If I were in that situation, I would do anything to protect myself,’ Lohr said. ‘I think his suggestions were all effective and they are definitely things I’d consider if put in that situation.’

Browne, who is in charge of managing the events, was pleased with the discussion and hoped the next discussion, which will include President Sidney Ribeau, would be just as successful.

‘These people are elected to run this school for the students,’ Browne said. ‘This gives [students] the chance to ask the tough questions of the people they pay to look after them.’

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