Letter to the Editor: This is why people don’t like cops

.Michael Brillman/FIU Professor


As a white male history professor at FIU, I’m an unlikely target for police harassment, but a cop attempted to intimidate me one spring Monday at the entrance of Green Library before class.

An officer biked up:

-Did you put out that cigarette?

-What cigarette?

He persisted, insisting I had been smoking and threatened to cite me.

–For what?

–For being disrespectful.

What was offensive was not his assuredness, but his distorted sense of power. I respect men and women in blue, if they command respect.

The English defer to authority without asking why. Americans defer to authority only if we know why. Police are citizens, and we should police them as citizens.

To write with a balanced perspective, I spoke with other professors and students who said they, or someone they knew, had had a run-in with an FIU police officer. Many of these were for traffic disputes, but not all. I went to speak to the officer’s superior and peers, none of whom rushed to defend their colleague. These FIU cops were courteous and professional.

Maybe nearsightedness should relegate some police to desk duty, and the department should do more to reward its brightest stars. At the very least, the department and University should require the less bright to do a course in professionalism and sensitivity training when addressing faculty, staff, students or visitors.

This is a waste of print, right, getting angry over a silly mistake? This is more than griping.

In 2010, a football star, Kendall Berry, was brutally murdered on campus. More recently, a creep on a bike grabbed women’s posteriors. Another sicko sniffed a woman’s toes at Starbuck’s.

I am not intimating that any police officer could have foreseen or prevented these horrible or weird events, only that other things, perhaps more important than smokers and jaywalkers, need policing on campus. FIU is a microcosm of society, and as we have seen a spate of police misdeeds across the country, we must be cognizant of and vigilant against any police injustice in our FIU community.

I’m the unlikely target, a white male history professor at FIU. I’m probably not you. A more likely target at Florida International University is a young Latino, Black, or foreign student, who may be far from home and afraid. Don’t be scared and know your rights.



Letter to the Editors are published once a month. They are not written by FIUSM staff but by members of the FIU community.  If you would like to submit a letter, please email it to opinion@fiusm.com


Image retrieved from Flickr.

1 Comment on "Letter to the Editor: This is why people don’t like cops"

  1. The majority of us here at FIU appreciate police officers and the work they do to keep us safe.

    The fact that a University professor wrote this abortion of a column is hilarious.

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