Cops Revealed

Cops+Revealed

Lauren Mitchell, Reporter

Robert Ebert, a journalist and film critic once said, “From a dramatic viewpoint, there are few professions that grant their members entry into other lives, high among them cops, doctors, clergymen, journalists and prostitutes. Perhaps that explains why they figure in so much television and cinema. Their lives are lived in the midst of human drama.

I had the opportunity to speak with a few different cops. These included the school resource officers, Officer Kioski and Officer Anderson. They concern themselves with the Woodland Park School District happenings. Kioski’s main objective is to prevent crime from happening in the first place. He helps within the schools by teaching D.A.R.E programs, while building a strong sense of community and understanding between the law enforcers and students. He is unsure of the high school student’s general opinions of him, but feels that they are respectful. During an interview he connected the high school environment with a real world setting, by saying, “Have you ever heard of the 1%, like the motorcycle gangs (Hell’s Angel’s)? They wear the patch that means they openly admit to be criminals, the one percent of the population that fights against the other ninety nine. It’s the same way here in the school; there is that one percent of kids that I tend to deal with on a negative basis all the time. Those kids don’t respect me as much as the good kids do. But as a whole, I would say that most kids respect me for what I do, especially now as this is my second year. A lot of people think I’m mean until they get to know me. I’ve been told I come off as intimidating.” The public’s view of law enforcement tends to go a million different directions. For certain teenagers, such as Summer Mitchell, Autumm McAbee and Ashley Evanoika, cops make them feel threatened, scared and intimidated.  The other resource officer for the Middle School and Columbine Elementary believes that he needs to be of assistance to the students, with an ultimate goal to help people, whether it is when they call 911 or when he sees someone on the side of the road. He was asked about the differences between age groups and the correlation between the general opinions of him, his statement was, “Yeah, I think all young kids around the elementary and middle school age have an admiration for police officers, and I think there is a general respect and admiration even on the high school level. However, it does seem like as kids get a little older, or hit that rough age, we get more opposition from the kids, but not overall. It’s just a small group of kids that are choosing a more negative path and tend to be more resistant to police in the high school just because they are in what I believe to be a more rebellious stage, but I wouldn’t say that’s shared by all the students. The majority of all the students I come in contact with are really receptive to the police. It’s just a small group that is making bad choices and I don’t even think that they are upset with the police, but more so that they are held accountable for their actions.” Overall, it seems like the messages that the students send police are positive. They find trouble in those that give them trouble, but the majority of the kids don’t seem to be problematic. The respect levels tend to be high and understandable.

The biggest reoccurring problem from the student’s perspective is how the cops handle certain issues, specifically drugs. Kara Fischer stated that she thought the cops do an overall acceptable job at protecting the community, but she feels like they tend to disregard a lot of the problems. “I think there are lots of issues that they ignore, like parties on Rampart that everyone seems to know about, but don’t care about. They come in and lecture to the school about drinking and safe driving, but yet it’s a community known fact that these events take place and continue to take place every week.” According to multiple sources, in Woodland Park, parties are not just alcohol; they include marijuana, pills and heroin. These girls talked about their viewpoints on the “smoker’s corner” by the preschool and how unfair it is to the other students who have to walk by it. They reported to feel uncomfortable and that they worry about little kids that pass by. They wonder why this is allowed and how police enforcement plan to change this. The officers did mention they were planning on increasing the protection in the area, but they are limited to what they can do since it’s a public street. Currently, they can only attempt to stop underage smoking of cigarettes. Kioski agrees that the use of drugs, such as marijuana, have become a problem within our area. He mentioned that it was brought to his attention that potentially over half the senior class has engaged in such activities, and that he wanted to educated teenagers on the negative effects of the plant. The cops feel as if they have control over the situations going on within the school, but the questions within the student body may tell a different story.   A problem that the police force faces is the amount of area that they have jurisdiction over. For instance, the parties on Rampart are not being held in Teller County, but in El Paso County. This creates false ideals from the students about what is happening around the area that they consider home, because they correlate the cops they see and know with the entire area, even if it may not be correct. If a call or report is made from Woodland Park about situations that occur in El Paso County, then Teller County police force will call the Sheriff’s Department in El Paso about the information.

The stereotypes of cops happen to be very interesting. Cops themselves tend to come across as overwhelming and scary. Students believe that they come across as having an attitude and a belief that they are above the rest of society. Officer Bast, a patrol deputy for Teller County, feels like these ideals are driven from the media’s portrayal of law enforcement.  In his opinion the current generation is influenced strictly by the negative representations of cops that appear on the news and on television. A weakness of law enforcement is the lack of education and the ways the citizens are told what to think about them. People tend to think that officers sit around and eat donuts, but in order for the job to be achieved to the best of the cop’s ability, they must be in good shape. Many of them attend gyms and eat well in order to stay fit for the job.

When asked if they would choose security or freedom when the two are in conflict, every student out of the six students represented, responded with a similar answer. “I would chose freedom and secure myself.”