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Opening a dialogue for change


Opening a dialogue for changeOpening a dialogue for change

In an effort to facilitate communication and positive change, Southampton High School recently hosted a roundtable discussion among a diverse group of high school students and members of the Southampton Village Police Department.

“With everything going on in America, we thought that this would be a good way to start an open dialogue,” said Principal Dr. Brian Zahn. “This is the first, not the last, of similar experiences that we hope to create for our students and community.”

During the session, students had the opportunity to openly ask questions of eight officers, four of whom are Southampton High School graduates. Addressing their questions were Lieutenant Suzanne Hurteau and Officers Lisa McCulley, Shawn Hubbard, Tiffany Lubold, Kyle McGuinness, Tim Muller, Kareem Proctor and Lee Pulliam.

Questions ran the gamut, from filming police, mental health and diversity in the police force to methods for de-escalation and what to do if pulled over.

“I thought it was important to participate because we have seen horrible things happening and I don’t want to be biased toward police, but rather want to get to know the officers I am surrounded by,” said junior Leilani Robinson. “I came out of this with a new perspective of police officers. They are not all badly intentioned, and I learned more about them and how to carry myself as a young native woman.”

Fellow junior LeBron Napier said he decided to sit down with the officers for similar reasons. “As an African American, I feel it is important to connect with the police and understand how they feel from their perspective. I learned they are human too and have to go home to the same problems we face.”

Sophomore Chloe Phillips said she joined the discussion so that students’ voices can be heard and help make a change. Similarly, Shea Rodriguez, a junior, said she wanted to help make a difference in the community. “It was nice to be able to sit face-to-face with the officers. I had never actually talked to an officer before. It gave me more perspective to know that they have personal lives and how they have to deal with different situations.”

“It was very helpful,” said Ellie Avallone, a junior. “We were able to see different perspectives and learn from everyone’s experiences.”

Photo courtesy of the Southampton Union Free School District