Today’s experience of meeting with police officers and learning about the homeless in Santa Monica was interesting to see. Specifically, how homelessness and mental illness is practically handled in a police force. We had discussed with two officers the department’s policies and actions they perform during calls, I felt fascinated by the conversations we were having. We would ask questions like: when to shoot a gun, how mental illness training is used in the force, and difficulties when dealing with different types of people, particularly on skid row. I enjoyed seeing my peers, challenging and having open, thought provoking discussions with police officers. Said discussion sparked a lot of questions within me and it impacted me to then go on the streets and talk to homeless people. I was expecting to hear emotional stories that would change my perspective on homelessness and that is what I got, but I didn’t feel real change. I felt like we were working in the short term rather than the long and giving out food and listening to stories. Although I felt like we were working in the short term, I hope that this trip will surprise me further and change my perspectives on community service.
~ Raviv Cohen is a junior from Seattle, Washington