Police reform has been an ongoing battle for the past 125 years, William Marvin Dulaney, associate professor of history at the University of Texas Arlington, said during his presentation commemorating Black History Month.
This colloquium, entitled “The Continuing Struggle for Police Reform: An African-American Perspective,” was sponsored by multicultural student programs, Concerned Black Students and the political science department, and took place on Feb. 16.
Dulaney opened his presentation by stating the importance of having a month dedicated to black history, even if it is during the shortest month of the year.
As a child and adolescent, Dulaney never learned about African-Americans’ contributions to society. He said he wanted to make sure that what happened to him during his 13 years of schooling did not happen to students in the future.
“Black history is a part of American history,” Dulaney said. “And the African American experience is an integral part of the American experience.”
He continued by focusing his presentation on police reform, as it is a continuous struggle within the African-American community. The changes that African-Americans were trying to make over a century ago are the same revisions they are trying to make now.
Starting with integration, African-Americans have tried to become an inside force in police divisions across the United States so that they would be the ones responsible for deciding who should be punished rather than a prejudiced white male.
“The police were so prejudiced on such a racially-biased matter that you couldn’t believe what a police officer said,” Dulaney said. “[It] created this type of policing that does not respect the fourth amendment.” Even though the police departments have seen some reform over the past few decades, Dulaney still believes that police officers are “shooting people with cold blood” and not feeling any remorse afterward.
He also believes that officers feel that it is their responsibility to look out for one another. Thus, even when there are officers who recognize the problem, many will not speak up when they feel there is injustice.
Dulaney responded to this by stating that it is the police officer’s obligation to serve the people. The bottom line is that they need more education and discipline within their institution.
Until these changes occur, Dulaney stated that he does not see the police willing to change.
“Some people may say we are beating a dead horse,” junior O’jeanique Washington said. “But I think there can’t be too much conversation about these types of issues.”
Washington and other students listening to his speech stated that they were glad to have these conversations taking place at our university and in society.
“These conversations are necessary to be had,” senior Jake Murray said. “It’s good that Wittenberg is hosting them.”