WKU police captain’s perspective on what is happening in Ferguson

August 16, 2014, Ferguson, Mo USA_ | Police stands with riot gear in front of shops to protect from looting and look on as protesters march peacefully on W. Florissant St. during the first night of curfew declared by Gov. Jay Nixon on Saturday Aug. 16, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo. Jeff Brown/HERALD

On Aug. 9, a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. Protests and outrage have filled the streets ever since.

At the center of the conflict are racial politics and militarized police forces. The community outrage surrounding the event motivated state police to take over support of the area from local police.

Capt. Dominic Ossello, of the campus police, weighs in on the events and the mistrust of Ferguson police.

The crux of the issue is community involvement.

When you’ve got a community like WKU’s, our officers are very open and involved. We work to build our officers into the community beyond just being police officers that are a part of WKU. 

It’s hard to say for sure with Ferguson because I haven’t actually seen any reports or evidence, but it sounds like it was a long-standing problem between the community and the police department itself.

I know our officers are doing what they can to be out in the public to portray the correct image and handle things correctly. They’re there for the students. When you’ve got something like that you really have the community on your side to work with and build a relationship.

By not having that community support or that community action, they pulled themselves out of it. When something like this happens, they’re already seen as outsiders.

This is a large issue that has blown up, but police being more open, honest and actually interacting with their community probably could have slowed it down.

-Dominic Ossello