When that call comes, the police could sometimes just say no
Here’s a thought regarding incidents like the recent one at Smith College, in which a black student was questioned by campus police merely for eating lunch (“Smith plans investigation of racial incident,” Metro, Aug. 3): Perhaps the best way to address this problem is by educating the police at all levels — campus, municipal, and state. The proper response of the campus police to a report that someone “seemed out of place” would have been to have asked what the person reported was doing that was suspicious, other than just eating lunch. They could have then told the person who called them, “Thanks, but we see nothing to investigate here.” End of story.
It would be nice if everyone had that attitude, but it might be easier to concentrate diversity education on the police, rather than trying to alter the behavior of the entire populace. Smith College does seem to realize that the campus police could have done better in this case. The article notes that Smith’s president said that the college will work with the campus police to improve protocols for assessing and responding to calls for assistance.
Lawrence J. Krakauer
Should we just do away with ‘see something, say something’?
A Smith College employee saw something that looked suspicious and said something, just as the leaders of our country, local authorities, and the police constantly urge us to do (“Smith worker who called police put on leave,” Metro, Aug. 4). The whole incident turned out to be a well-meaning mistake, and that should have been the end of it. Instead, we have a teaspoon of sand turned into a giant wasteland by the media, aided and abetted by the administration at Smith College.
The campus worker who called the police deserves a commendation for caring and making the call. Instead, the staff member has been placed on leave, and this person probably will be insulted with sensitivity and diversity training.
How likely will it be in the future for Smith College employees to call the police when they see a suspicious individual on the campus?
Frederick A. Liberatore