– December 6th, 2013 by Carly Stevens –
Hey you! ‘Lunch with the law’ wants you
Beyond their books, tests and papers, college students are not always aware of the legal issues that can arise outside of the classroom. Luckily for students at Colby-Sawyer College, Nov. 6 marked the beginning of “Lunch with the Law,” where police officers from the New London Police Department (NLPD) are taking their lunch breaks in the cafeteria once a week from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. with hopes of opening up the conversation to students about legal issues and concerns.
In recent years, police officers from the NLPD have been responding to numerous disputes both on and off campus. In these incidences, students appeared to be unaware or did not fully understand the legal issues at hand. This is especially true in regards to the alcohol laws, which are “share arrest” offenses and require an arrest by law. In an effort to answer questions and build a more positive relationship with students, officers from the NLPD have been sitting down to lunch with students in the school’s cafeteria for the past month.
Officer Dave Zuger of the NLPD, along with Chief Ed Andersen and CSC Safety Officers are some of the members involved in the new program. Officer Zuger expressed that the Police Department was constantly in a reactive state when dealing with students for infractions they may have unknowingly committed.
Zuger explained, “One of the problems with the reactive system is we (students and officers) only typically interact when there is a problem, a crime, or a violation has been committed, and the officer is then tasked with holding the student accountable. When this is the only contact between the two groups, it can be the basis of a very adversarial relationship.”
Based on this system, Zuger proposed “Lunch with the Law,” as a beneficial and valuable program that can give everyone the opportunity to open up the dialog between the police department and Colby-Sawyer students about legal issues they might face while at the college.
Student responses to “Lunch with the Law” have been a mix of support and trepidation. Junior Meagan Raymond responded to the program with a positive attitude. “Within the past three years that I have attended CSC, I always had specific legal questions that I wish I could have gone to the Police Department with. This seems like a step in the right direction,” Raymond announced. However, senior Sport Management major Laura Tebbetts feels as though the officers may need to think of other ways to truly reach out to students. Tebbetts observed, “The concept is great, but I have a difficult time wanting to approach the officers because of the vast amount of officers sitting at one table. I think it would be more effective if they divided themselves throughout the cafeteria more evenly and possibly even approached students directly.”
Only about a month in, “Lunch with the Law” is still a new program with serious potential. Officer Zuger commented, “I would like to see an environment where, although we may not always agree, it is built on mutual trust and respect.”
Students with thoughts, concerns, or any ideas towards improving this program are asked to stop by at lunch, or email Officer Zuger at firstname.lastname@example.org.