Criminal justice majors share perspectives about police brutality


Breanna Rae Weber

Joseph Van Oss, left, and Matt Derse share their perspectives on the police profession.

Danielle Livingston, Staff Reporter

Many Americans have been discussing, debating and even rioting over the issue of police brutality.

Lakeland College has a large number of students who are majors or minors in criminal justice, so this debate could affect the lives of present and future students both during school and after graduation.

Two Lakeland students who aspire to be in the policing field after college have another take on all the police unrest.

Matt Derse, junior criminal justice major, suspects that police are misrepresented in the media.

Many stories of police brutality are shown but very rarely are the stories of good deeds done by police officers displayed on the news.

Joseph Van Oss, junior criminal justice major, also believes that the press has been playing a role in police unrest.

“People have been seeing a lot of media, like ‘Hunger Games,’ ‘Divergent’ and ‘V for Vendetta,’ which shows an oppressive government that needs to be overthrown. That is a good message but people wrongly place that concept onto the police,” Van Oss said.

Van Oss explained that people often forget that when an officer is sworn in, he or she must swear to protect the people and the community.

“Police officers live to serve their communities, and their ultimate goal is to make their communities a safer place,” Derse said.

According to Derse, the concept that police are to make a community safer and are set to a much higher standard may be why they are hit so hard when a case of police brutality does occur. People may forget all the good that police do for society because they are used to only seeing the bad.

Van Oss, as an intern at the Calumet County Sherriff’s Department, has been informed by the officers he works with that each officer has to regularly go through constant training. A majority of this training and retraining has to do with gun safety.

An idea that Van Oss has for reducing distaste for the police is to bring back more public relations from the police departments. More recently, the departments have been doing less with their public relations. Van Oss believes if they were to boost this, more people would be apt to enjoy the presence of the police rather than be angered by it.