SPRINGFIELD — The video is shocking; the public outcry deafening. The trend involves multiple cases of police officers shooting unarmed black suspects.
The issue has many calling for reform and many political candidates vowing to make changes, but where do they really stand on the issue? Police officials say it’s all about developing a bond between the department and the community it serves.
These students from the University of Illinois at Springfield are having pastries with police.
“We wanted to get in touch with the campus community, talk to the students so they can see what we do on campus,” said Baughman.
Officer Amanda Baughman has been on the force for 14-years. She knows lately, being a cop has come with some controversy, so she wanted to change it.
“You know, deep-rooted issues are going on with the police right now. Just to be understanding, what’s going on.”
Baughman and her colleagues want to bridge the differences between law enforcement and the community.
“So, we got to get a better understanding of where we are coming from for other people are coming from just getting together and talking about issues.”
It’s an issue they want to see presidential candidates tackle as well.
“As of candidates, what’s best for law enforcement we obviously want what’s best for the community.”
Both parties say they can do that.
“We need real police reform in this country. Police departments are run by local departments. Federal government can play a major role,” said Bernie Sanders (D).
“You have done a job like no other. You’re not recognized properly. You will be recognized properly if I win,” said Donald Trump (R).
Nella Coleman was was one of the students attending the Pastries with Police event.
“I’m definitely more comfortable approaching police officers now because it was harmless. It was peaceful. It was exciting. It was funny. We laughed together, we shared stories together.”
Coleman said more events like this need to be done.
“This is one example and one opportunity for the students to have a positive experience with officers.”
This is the second year the campus has hosted the event. They encourage other departments to do the same.
New statistics paint a pretty grim picture of the tension between police and their communities. Last month, 81 people around the country were killed by police officers. Three were in Illinois. Last year, in Illinois, there were 25 people shot and killed by police. 11 officers nationwide have been killed by gunfire in the line of duty this year.