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The Daily Tar Heel

Man on the street: Chapel Hill residents talk police gear

The Chapel Hill Police Department will hold a question and answer session to respond to questions about its military equipment Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Chapel Hill Public Library.

The Carrboro Police Department will hold a similar session Monday at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

Staff writer Maggie Monsrud asked Orange County residents, “What questions do you have for the police department about its military surplus equipment?”

Concern about excessive force

Daniel Pinelli, a senior political science and French major, said he was concerned about the militarization of the police and the potential for police to use excessive force.

“When I see instances of not just people like Michael Brown, but of also people before and after him, just being senselessly shot down by police, that concerns me,” he said, referencing the young, black man shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Mo., in August.

“I think the primary reason I’m concerned with that is because I do not think that is any way to run the United States.

Not the biggest issue

Rachel Daniel, a senior political science and journalism major, said the militarization of police forces and the potential for excessive force is something that should be monitored, but she doesn’t think it will be a problem in Chapel Hill.

She said it is not an issue she considers a priority, because there are more pressing issues to discuss.

“The top of my concern right now is Syria and the situation in the Middle East,” she said

'Are they crazy?'

Jessie Cameron, a Chapel Hill Transit bus driver, said he is concerned about the militarization of police and sees the potential for excessive force.

“They’re doing it without justification,” he said. 

Cameron argued police do not need the military gear they’re outfitted with.

“I would like to ask them one question: ‘Are they crazy?’” he said. Cameron does not speak for Chapel Hill Transit. 

“We don’t need that here. We’re not in Iraq.”

Use force only when necessary

Kayla Ramsey, a sophomore nursing major, said police should only use force when it’s absolutely necessary, but she’s not concerned about the potential militarization of Chapel Hill police.

“I just feel like everyone here is pretty much safe,” she said, arguing that in areas with higher crime rates police should be able to have the equipment they need to protect residents.

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She said she would ask police what military equipment they carry and when they use it.

Yates incident raises questions

Melissa Carter, a fitness instructor from Chapel Hill, said she is concerned about the militarization of police and the potential for police to use excessive force.

“If it can happen in a small town like that in Missouri, it can happen anywhere,” she said.

“We did have the incident over at Yates Automotive a few years ago when Occupy Wall Street was in there. They sent a SWAT team over from the local precinct, and it was kind of scary.”