Letters to the EditorOpinion

Police, citizens should relate

Along with thousands of costumed students, I had a blast on Halloween night wandering the streets near campus. My grinning mug in the photo with your Nov. 4 article says it all. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the festivities, wearing my bright white parka labeled “COMMUNITY Watch (cops included).”

Thank you for spotlighting my nearly spontaneous volunteer project to make Halloween a little safer (“Community volunteers help make Halloween a little safer,” ODE, Nov. 4). There were, however, a few corrections I’d like to make, for which I appreciate this opportunity. Meanwhile there is more to report for those interested in joining in the preparations for next Halloween.

First, during Halloween 2008, a friend joined me in walking through university neighborhoods to observe and document police interactions with campus revelers, under the name “Copwatch.”

This year I chose to expand my focus, as reflected in the slogans I painted on my white parka. A few others were also walking around the neighborhoods, all of us more or less in touch with each other by cell phone. They might have considered themselves part of Copwatch or simply observers. Several had video cameras in order to document notable incidents involving police and students or others in the area.

We were a motley crew with a variety of interests and motivations. However, contrary to wording in the article, none of us were there to “help the police” deal with “illegal activities.”
I was particularly startled with the quote attributed to me apparently referring to police as “bad guys.” That phrase is simply not in my lexicon regarding the Eugene Police Department.

During the past year, I have worked toward broadening my understandings of police-community issues. One thing that has struck me is Sir Robert Peel’s basic principle that “the police are the public, and the public are the police.” (British “Bobbies” are named after Peel, who is considered the father of modern policing.) While there is surely more to this principle than I am imagining, it somehow fits with the slogan I felt compelled to paint on my parka: “COMMUNITY Watch (cops included).”

As mentioned in your article featuring officer Randy Ellis (“Clean Streets: A Mission,” ODE, Oct. 1), I am involved in starting a nonprofit project to encourage more positive relationships among police and other members of the community. PACT — acronym for Police and Community Together — is a project of a new nonprofit named A Community Together.

While ACT is being set up to encompass broader purposes, PACT will be completely non-political and non-confrontational, welcoming all to sociable, positive venues to help us come together for a safer community.

What could be more fitting and fun than starting now to think creatively about next year’s Halloween festivities, organizing for a Community Watch with many more volunteers and resources (cautionary signs alerting drivers, white parkas for many volunteers, etc).

As pointed out by my associate in ACT/PACT, Majeska Seese-Green, there will certainly be another potentially chaotic night (or two) next year. Thousands of costumed revelers — faculties impaired — could use more helping hands to deal with traffic, avoiding injury or even death.

To get on a list to be contacted for next Halloween’s Community Watch (or sooner if you desire), call ACT/PACT at 541-337-1643 or e-mail [email protected] The first, very informal PACT get-together is Friday, Dec. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the McNail-Riley House, 601 W. 13th Ave; everyone is welcome.

One final thing: I don’t know how my last name got reported as “Burke,” since I spelled out “Berg-Caldwell” for the reporter. Oh well. My friends are asking when I changed my name. Now I’ll use “Carol Burke” as my Bobbie name. (Thanks for speedy correction in the online version.)

Let’s continue watching out for each other. We’re all in this together, wanting a safe community for everyone.

[email protected]

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