Speakers: Police ‘Are Just People, Too’

Kailene Nye, Reporter

Students explored the state of law enforcement with police officers from Warrington Township.

Detective Bernard Schaffer and Lieutenant Robert Meditz spoke to students in government and history classes Oct. 23 about the opioid crisis, community outreach programs, and how policing has changed over recent years.

Dr. Glenn Willis, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, and Dr. Rebecca Padot, Assistant Professors of history, arranged the visit.

Meditz spoke about technology during his portion of the event. He noted the impact of technology on enforcement and explained how police car technology is entirely computer driven and how cell phones and social media help to solve problems – and create trouble, as well.

He addressed actions the Warrington Police Department is taking to shed a better light on police officers. He mentioned community outreach programs, including Bucks Police Assisting in Recovery, which assists those with opioid addiction, the Crisis Intervention Team, which helps with mental health, and events like Coffee with a Cop and Shop with a Cop aimed to help the community see officers as everyday members of the community.

Meditz said he wants people to know  “what we do, how we do it, how it’s changed, where it came from,” because most people only hear about law enforcement in terms of day-to-day crimes and events.

“It’s also to show them that law enforcement has taken a black eye lately because of certain activities, and to show that we are just people. We are trying to do a job and to just put that face on it and to just let them know that we are just people,” Meditz said.

Schaffer said the people in the community must know who the police are and understand that they there to serve them and their needs.

“There’s so much misinformation out there, and there are so many times where people just didn’t know who to ask or how to get the help they needed. The more that law enforcement communicates with the public that they serve, the easier everyone’s life is going to be. It shouldn’t be a mystery. We shouldn’t be the guys hiding in the shadows that no one knows how to access. We are public servants, and this is part of public service,” he said.

Meditz also addressed students interested law enforcement careers and gave them advice on how they should prepare.

“We have to be a variety of different things. You have to be an ambassador of the police department to the community and also to get out that you need to keep a clean, good lifestyle. You have to look at yourself and look at who you are and make sure you are putting your best foot forward all the time.”

He added that departments are looking for the best candidates to be police officers.

Schaffer also spent a portion of the event discussing his latest novel “The Thief of All Light,” which was released in August.

He said while his job as a detective has not necessarily served as inspiration for his stories, it has given him a better understanding of the characters he writes about.

“It’s a way that I express myself. Certainly, the job has helped inform my writing and my understanding of humanity, but I feel like with each project, I have a different theme I want to discuss, and I have different things I want to try, and I love storytelling and I love the process of writing. It’s a craft and it’s something you’re constantly working at to improve and to me, that’s the most interesting part,” Schaffer said.

He said he thinks being a detective/author is not unusual.

“Certainly, to be a good detective and a good all-around police officer, you need to be able to express yourself with written reports and to be able to be coherent and cohesive. I can definitely say, with my novels, that there are authors who write police books and thriller books based on what they see on TV or based on a two-week ride along they did with a police department.”

He said his stories are genuine.

“Everything you read from me is authentic because I’m authentic, so that’s a benefit for me and for my readers is that I never have to ask myself, ‘Oh, I wonder how the cops would do that.’ I already know,” he said.

Alison McElheran, junior history and secondary education major, said the speakers helped shed light on the real lives of law enforcement officers.

“I thought that the talk was very interesting and informative especially since police get a bad rap in current society. It was nice to see them finally in a different light,” she said.

She said she learned that police officers must have multifaceted knowledge and skills that exceed those needed for only enforcing the law.

“They are essential members of the community that they are a part of. They work to enhance daily life for every member by holding programs like coffee with a cop. These programs help remind the community that they are just people, too,” McElheran said.

She said her favorite part of the talk was learning about all of the outreach programs they provide.

“These are things that you don’t hear about in the news when they are talking about the current law enforcement,” she said.

Meditz said the most memorable part for him was talking to students.

“I just loved talking to the students and the individuals and answering their questions and getting their feedback because I can talk all I want up there, but sometimes, I’m not communicating something in the way they understand it, so talking to them and putting, again, that one-on-one rapport with them to show them that we’re people and we’re here to help you and we’ll do whatever we can to help you,” he said.

Schaffer agreed and said he enjoyed answering the students’ many questions.

“It’s great to get the chance to reexamine things from a different way or have somebody keep you on your toes and ask you a question you may have not necessarily prepared for, but get to give a genuine, from-the-heart answer,” he said.