Criminal Justice Professor & Former Police Officer Michael Mitchell Participates in Police Role Swap
Whenever police officers make a traffic stop, they never know exactly what they're walking into. And while there are undoubtedly bad cops, the vast majority of officers are good people who want to do their jobs well. Michael Mitchell, a former police officer and professor of criminal justice at Martin University in Indianapolis, Indiana, was on hand to conduct surveys and see what the public thinks during traffic stops.
During his address to a recent gathering of community members and officers, Mitchell admitted that "Nobody hates bad cops more than good cops." His goal was to underscore the differences in perception between officers and the public by allowing both to experience switching roles.
One of the community members participating in the exercise was Ardell Bell, who shared his fear and anxiety when getting pulled over by the police. Bell wants officers to understand the perspective of the person they're stopping and hopes to figure out ways to make the situation easier for everyone involved.
"How do we break the ice?" Ardell Bell, a community member, asked. "Because if I'm getting pulled over, I'm not sure how to approach the officer. I want them to know the fear I feel and the stress I'm under."
To better understand these situations, Bell and other community members switched places with the officers and conducted traffic stops themselves. The goal was to give officers a sense of what it's like to be on the other side of the interaction and to help them understand the perspective of the person they're stopping.
Organizers say they want this to be the start of more events and more conversations about how to improve the relationship between the police and the communities they serve. Thanks to the efforts of people like Bell, professor Michael Mitchell, and the team at Martin University, we may be one step closer to realizing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of a just and equitable society for all.