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How police responses can shape the public’s opinion

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election, georgia, congress

(WSIL) -- Congressional leaders are calling for the resignations of key Capitol Hill security officials following yesterday's riot at the Capitol building.

In the melee, more than a dozen police officers were injured and one woman was shot and killed by security officers.

While many are decompressing from Wednesday's protest, SIU Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice Tammy Kochel says when we talk about what happened, using what we see is the best way to find the right terminology.

"The goal of how we describe these demonstrations, protests, riots, whatever you want to call them, is being fully accurate…and clearly this wasn't a peaceful protest. But we just need to bare in mind the way we describe these events affect our interpretation of them," she said.

Capitol Police who were outnumbered and unprepared for the group
struggled to contain yesterday's attack, Kochel says when events like these are mishandled it can impact the public's opinion.

"All involved need to be able to respect each other and our democracy and appreciate that the freedom to express our beliefs doesn't authorize anyone to harm others," she said.

News 3 also asked how police presence and actions can affect the outcomes of protests.

"The use of military clothing or military vehicles or military weapons certainly can inflame the public and of course that does not mean that officers should be defenseless against violence," she said.

She also added the role of civilian police force is typically to minimize violence during protests. And we asked how police can maintain a good relationship with the public going forward.

"Be transparent to acknowledge any wrongdoings that may have occurred or things that could be done better as well as commit to continue to provide procedurally just policing," she said.

She says everyone needs to be aware of how their own bias and assumptions play into their reaction to the event and take some time to reflect.

Maya Skinner

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