Students and University Police offers talk at the Police Dialogue on April 6. Credit: Ashley Nelson | Lantern Reporter

Students, faculty and police officers gathered in the Performance Hall of the Ohio Union on Thursday evening to have an open and honest dialogue about student safety, race relations and policing in the Columbus area.

Student organization Sustained Dialogue at OSU — which seeks to engage students in dialogue on critical social issues — collaborated with the Black Student Association and USG to put on the organization’s second Police Dialogue. The event connected officers from University Police and the Columbus Division of Police with students and faculty who wanted to discuss difficult issues in a safe place.

The idea for the first Police Dialogue, which took place in 2016, was sparked after police brutality became a national topic of discussion. The death of Tyre King — a 13-year-old who was shot while Columbus police were responding to a potential robbery call — gained national exposure last year.

“We thought it was important to have students and police officers sit down on campus and negate some of these stereotypes and really discuss what’s going on and how we can work to close the gap between the two entities,” said Brooklyn McDaniels, a third-year in communication and president of the Black Student Association.

Rather than having presenters or a panel, the organization opted for a more informal conversation. The attendees were assigned tables, each one having students, faculty, police officers and a moderator to facilitate discussion.

In attendance were University Police Chief Craig Stone, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs, police officers from both departments, the Black Student Association, Ohio Staters and over 150 students and faculty.

“There’s some things that have happened across the country that were not appropriate but I think the (Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board) having standards for law enforcement is important,” Stone said. “It’s important to have policies and procedures in place and constantly be training and respecting and embracing diversity and inclusion because this campus is home to a lot of people, all nationalities, all backgrounds.”

Tori Miller, a second-year in human resources, came away with a different perspective.

“It’s sometimes hard, especially as an African-American student here, you see things a lot differently than the predominantly white students, but the officers were really open and honest about their experiences and we were definitely open about ours,” Miller said. “It was very eye opening, you get to see a lot of different people’s perspectives and you get to share your own experiences that sometimes don’t get heard.”