The intersection of law enforcement and race has been near the top of the country’s most frequent and sensitive issues in recent years.
In an effort to drive a healthy dialogue about the subject on the University of Oregon campus, especially with students, the University of Oregon Police Department, the Division of Student Life and the School of Law will hold a panel discussion, “Diversity in Policing,” at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, in the Redwood Auditorium in the Erb Memorial Union.
Two speakers from the Los Angeles area — Los Angeles Police Department officer Deon Joseph and former police officer and current K-12 educator John Johnson — will share their perspective as black men in law enforcement, answer prepared questions and engage in a moderated discussion with the audience.
The event is open to students, faculty members, staff and community members, and snacks will be served.
“I believe it’s important to present an understanding of the absolute lack of diversity in policing in this state as well as the profession itself in the United States,” UOPD Chief Matt Carmichael said. “We’re hosting this event to provide a different perspective and insights into community policing and the culture of policing itself through the lens of an African-American police officer. Policing in higher education has clearly demonstrated to me that the ability to learn from each other is how we make a difference.”
Both Joseph and Johnson have years of community service experience as well as strong views on the challenges faced by law enforcement officers from diverse backgrounds.
“Listening to other professionals as they highlight their challenges and how they were able to overcome those challenges gives us the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes, if just for a moment,” Carmichael said. “This is how we effect change and take care of each other as a community of individuals wanting the same things but sometimes just not knowing how to get there together.”
The night before the panel, Joseph and Johnson will have dinner with UO staff and students, including several student athletes and members of the Black Student Union, Black Male Alliance and Black Law Students Association.
"I'm excited that our students will have this opportunity to interact and dialogue with these veterans of law enforcement as a part of their educational experience at the UO," Vice President for Student Life Kevin Marbury said.