STATESBORO — Georgia Southern hosted a meet and greet with local law enforcement on Thursday evening at the Performing Arts Center.
Students got the opportunity to speak with members of the GS Police Department, Statesboro Police Department and Bulloch County Sheriff’s Department.
Sergeant Sly Colquitt of Statesboro PD, said that communication and seeking the truth were things students could do to have better interact with law enforcement.
“Ask questions. Seek answers. Don't just believe what the first clickbait is that you see on these social media posts. Actively seek out for answers to questions,” Colquitt said. “If you have a question about law, go to an officer, go to a lawyer. If you have a question about a school policy, go to an administrator go to somebody who is actually knowledgeable about the subject and try not to believe in hearsay.”
Colquitt said he also wanted to learn more information about the book burning incident that occurred on Wednesday.
“I came here to get information and to see how it's not only affecting the students, but how the university is going to communicate or handle the situation going forward,” Colquitt said.
Colquitt serves as a Sergeant in the office of professional standards, which handles internal affairs, hiring and internships.
Captain Ben Linhard, with the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, said that he was looking forward to coming out and introducing himself to students, and getting to know them.
“I think this is a great opportunity for us to come out here introduce ourselves, y'all to come out, introduce yourself and just start talking,” Linhard said.
There were about 20 tables set up to give students the opportunity to ask an officer at each table questions pulled from a brown paper bag. Some of the questions included, “What was it like to be the youngest, middle or oldest child?” “What is the weirdest thing you have ever done alone?” “What is the dumbest argument you have ever had?”
President Kyle Marrero said that this event was set up so that students and law enforcement can learn more about each other, what their hopes, dreams and passions are.
“Because that's our biggest issue right now, frankly, in this country is we forget that we're all on this earth together, trying to get along and fulfill what we're trying to achieve together,” Marrero said.
Marrero said that GS’s goal for students was that no one’s path was hindered.
“Our goal on this campus is to create an environment where everyone can succeed and everyone's no one's path is impeded along that way,” Marrero said.
Chief Mike Broadhead, from the Statesboro Police Department, said that the police should be accountable to the public.
“Sometimes communities look at the police as if it's some sort of monolithic thing like it's, it's, it's some other entity that is here to police you,” Broadhead said. “We have local police departments that are run by local people. So if you're unhappy with the way you're being policed, there are things you can do to correct that.”
Broadhead said that if citizens want changes made to how their community is policed, they can/
“You guys actually have power over how you get police,” Broadhead said. “It really is incumbent on the citizens to make sure that their voices heard. And then they get the kind of police department of the kind of sheriff's office that they deserve and that they demand to provide those services to them.”
Bulloch County Sheriff Noel Brown said that the students sitting in front of him would have carry Bulloch County forward.
“Y'all are as leaders, you're our future. And we want to know that we have someone carrying that forward. And again, I consider it an honor to be here tonight to speak with you about that,” Sheriff Brown said. “You mean so much to me, and I care about you, and I am mandated by the state of Georgia to keep the peace and keep you safe in this town. And we're all really working together.”
SGA Senator Kobe Stringer, senior information systems major, said that he was hoping that students would understand law enforcement’s role in their community.
“I hope that students can understand the purpose of law enforcement since that seems like the biggest aspect right now,” Stringer said. “I hope they [students] understand why we have law enforcement in that job and what their role is.”