Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Police presence is a necessary nuisance

Police officers. We see them every day.

We here on this UMass campus may even get sick of seeing them so often. However, what would this campus look like without them? What would this world look like without men and women brave enough to put their lives on the line for the betterment of the common person?

This weekend, the city of Oakland, Calif., mourns the loss of four of its finest sons. Officer John Hege, Sgt. Daniel Sakai, Sgt. Ervin Romans and Sgt. Mark Dunakin were all killed in the line of duty over the weekend on what seemed to be a normal traffic stop.

The two officers that made the initial stop were Officer Hege and Sgt. Dunakin. The suspect was 26-year-old Lovelle Mixon. Instead of complying with the two officers’ orders, Mixon went on the attack and shot both Hege and Dunakin. Sgt. Dunakin was killed on the spot while Officer Hege was mortally wounded and succumbed to his wounds on Sunday.

At this time, fellow police officers and SWAT worked to subdue the armed gunman. Before Mixon was finally taken down, he managed to gun down two more police officers. These officers were Sgt. Sakai and Sgt. Romans.

On a campus where complaints about the intrusiveness of police are as common as a traffic stop, what would be your reaction if something like this had happened to the UMass police force or the police force of a neighboring town?

So often we criticize our police force that we tend to forget the true purpose that they serve, which is to protect the common person.

Yes, we shake our heads whenever we see a person that has seemingly been randomly pulled over. Yes, underclassmen loathe the vulture-like manner that the police have on alcohol runs. Yes, we despise how we are under suspicion of some form of wrong doing due to our age.

However, having police present is necessary. When you witness a friend in trouble or feel threatened by an individual, you dial 911. You aren’t dialing your Uncle Joe in this type of situation. You are calling the police because you need them.

You need them. Need is the main word to focus on in that sentence. We may not always want the police around but we need them to be around. I will be honest and say that I wouldn’t chance driving around the roads of UMass if I knew that there were no police to regulate those that feel the idiotic need to get behind the wheel after slamming a few too many back.

What it comes down to is that the police have our back. We just don’t always get that point. If a person were to come onto this campus and decide to start acting violently towards others, the police would be the first ones there.

What we have to remember is that police officers have devoted their lives to helping and defending others. There is a reason why they have gadgets and guns. They don’t carry around these tools for fun.

Officers go into each day knowing that they have a gun on their hip and that they may have to use it if the situation calls for it. Officers go into each day knowing that they may have to lay all of their cards on the table and put their lives on the line so that others can live.

Many of us forget just how hard an officer’s life is when the going gets tough. We think, ‘Yeah, I could do that. Just whip out the pistol and subdue the target.’ It is much easier said than done.

Many people have shot guns but they are usually at stationary targets or animals. Police have to sometimes deal with individuals who know how to operate a gun as well as they do. As an old saying goes, ‘It’s like shooting at squirrels, except these squirrels have guns.’

We are fortunate to have officers that care about us. Yes, they do seem a little overzealous at times but they are ultimately trying to protect the community and watch out for people.

What we need to take away from this weekend’s tragic events is that a police officer is a person just like you and me. They are individuals who, much like members of the military, have made a vow to put their life on the line so that you may live.

We need to appreciate our police force more, as frustrated as we get at them. In doing so, we not only honor the task that they have devoted their life to, we also honor the four brave officers that gave their lives in the line of duty in Oakland over the weekend.

Matt Kushi is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].

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