Students question police motives around campus


Kevin Mensah

A Bowling Green State University Police cruiser.

Nia Lambdin, Editor in Chief

Students at BGSU are confused and doubtful of the motives of the police who are patrolling the city and campus; however, officers with the Bowling Green Police Department and the BGSU Police Department are working to combat students’ growing discomfort with their work. 

BGSU students like digital arts major Abby Fossaceca say they feel both curious and confused by their experience with the police presence on campus. 

“I always see them out by Lot 12 just doing whatever, and I’m like, ‘Girl. The campus is the other way. What are you doing?’” Fossaceca said. “They just do the most for the most mundane things.”

Local police hope their efforts to better understand their community, including attending regular meetings with BGSU’s Deputy of Diversity and Belonging officer Ana Brown, will pay off. 

“We try to involve ourselves in different community programs and events. I specifically, and a lot of our officers, try to coordinate with the university for different events that are going on,” Skaff said. “We hope that the students see us (around campus).” 

Still, students like statistics major Claire Miller say the campus police should be more focused on student safety than minor traffic violations.

“It feels like they’re doing what BGPD should be doing…instead of focusing on maybe getting drugs out of the residence halls, or making sure that the people within the halls or on campus are safe,” Miller said. 

BGSUPD’s Chief of Police and BGSU Director of Public Safety Michael Campbell said he is aware of the thoughts the public has on police and is taking another approach to combat police stereotypes.

“We will have some officers go to different events just to show support. Just to let our community know we are here if they need anything,” Campbell said. 

Campbell said he pushes his officers to connect with students on campus by encouraging them to participate in a community liaison program, which puts officers in a position to talk and interact with students on campus.  

“We assign officers to various places on campus, and part of that focus is where we see our campus community,” Campbell said. “The focus is that when time allots that they can go out and they can have a conversation with people that work in the buildings and students taking classes in the building and maybe help them problem-solve.” 

Campbell said liaisons would patrol during the day in high-traffic spots including academic buildings, the student union or different academic buildings around campus. However, the night patrol would be stationed at multiple residential halls since students spend the evenings in their dorms, according to Campbell. 

However, while the BGSUPD’s liaison program aims to build connections with some students and the police, some BGSU students say they are frightened by the police and are uncomfortable with an increased police presence on campus.

Sociology graduate student David Snoberger said he feels intimidated by and uncomfortable with an increase in police in a “chill” location.

“I always find it a little bit intimidating to see police around a lot, so when I see BG Police in a parking lot or something, I’m always thinking something is happening, and I see that a lot,” Snoberger said. “It can be unnerving when you’re just sitting in the Union or something, and you see the BG Police walkthrough. Everybody’s just sitting here chilling, having a good time. It makes me uncomfortable seeing a lot of campus police, honestly.”

However, Skaff said that the city’s police department sees the tension between police and the public and hopes the increased presence of police at BGSU events will create a more open dialogue between students and police.

“We do our best to try to outreach for both citizens of the community and students,” Skaff said. “We think it is important to understand that the students are citizens of this community, and they’re just as much a part of this community as anybody else, and we respect that fact.”

However, Snoberger said he feels like the watchful eye of police around campus or in the city is more like spying on students than protecting students. 

“You see a lot of police around, but it’s almost like, ‘What are they doing? Are they actually keeping us safe, or are they just kind of watching what we’re doing?’ It almost feels like, in a way, they’re almost spying on us a little bit,” Snoberger said. 

Digital arts major Aurora Michaelsen said her perception of the police is neither good nor bad, but rather, she believes the police are doing their best to keep students safe. 

“I don’t think they’re necessarily doing a bad job because I don’t see bad things happening. It’s hard to answer because if you don’t see it, then you don’t really know,” Michaelsen said. “I mean, I guess I would want to assume that they’re doing what they should be doing and keeping us safe.”

Some students said they are still wary of police, even with Campbell and Skaff’s police forces working to connect with BSGU students and the BG community.

“It feels like they’re [BGSU PD] doing everything except for keeping people safe. There’s been a lot of instances where there are people who have done bad, and nothing has happened to them,” Miller said.