Policing in the U.S.: Thursday brown-bag series

Complex conversations create potential for change.

The Center for Leadership & Social Change hopes to furnish this potential by hosting “Policing in the U.S.,” a series of talks focused on the complexity of policing in America. The center’s goal in organizing this series is to provide a space for the community to learn and discuss with experts in the field.

“One interesting aspect of this series is that we plan to feature the perspective of an academic, an officer, and an activist in each of the programs,” said Steve Mills, an associate director at the center. “We’re hoping that will lend balance to this conversation, which is often only considered from one point of view.”

The first session in the three-part series will take place on Feb. 16. “The Crucible: The Difficulty of Getting it Right,” will be led by Dr. Thomas Blomberg, dean of FSU’s College of Criminology. Blomberg will focus on factors that make it challenging to achieve an effective, safe and compassionate enforcement of our laws and how these social factors have evolved over time.

“We have complex issues in our country that make it even more difficult to get policing right,” Mills said. “Law enforcement has never been an easy job, but it’s even more difficult in a volatile, fearful or suspicious atmosphere.”

The second session will take place on March 2. “The Training: Rules & Regulations for Enforcing the Law,” will be led by David Perry, FSU police chief and assistant vice president for Public Safety. Perry will touch on the critical importance of police training and the implications it may have on an officer’s actions. He will specifically address the use of force in police activity.

Diop Kamau, a civil rights activist and police abuse investigator, will lead the third and final session on March 23. Kamau’s talk—“The Interaction: What to Know. What to Do.”—will cover strategies that are useful to know when interacting with police.

Mills hopes that the series will allow students and faculty—as well as anyone who might be concerned about the state of policing in the U.S.—to participate in a balanced discussion about the issues we face as a country.

“Sometimes the legitimate search for balanced understanding can be seen as resignation or rationalization, especially when people are in the fresh grip of fear or grief,” Mills said. “So much of this kind of programming happens in direct reaction to a specific police tragedy. While we’re not interested in avoiding the harder truths of this conversation, we’re hoping this will be a more proactive space for the conversation.”

Policing in the U.S. will be a brown-bag series, meaning attendees are welcome to bring their lunch. Additional drinks and desserts will be provided. Each session will take place on Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. in the Globe Auditorium.