Dubstep Cop

Mike Madriaga

Mike Madriaga

Trap music was bumping from a police car outside of the BT and the AH buildings. One officer bobbed his head and greeted students as they exited and entered the quad patio.

“They are astonished that there is a cop car blasting this kind of music,” said Officer. Richard Ferrell from the San Diego Community College District Police Department about the surprised students. “They can’t believe it,” Ferrell said. “This totally just breaks the mold of what law enforcement does.”

This was the first evening version of “Coffee with a Cop,” an informal meet-and-greet where students can ask the police officers anything that they want. “It doesn’t have to be law enforcement related,” Ferrell said, “we just want to engage our community.”

Not everybody was impressed with Ferrell’s loud trap, drum-and-bass, psy-trance, and dubstep music booming from the vehicle.

“I was not drawn to Richard’s choice of music,” said June Cressy, “but it probably did get the attention of our much younger students.” Cressy, a lead production services assistant, has been working on campus for over 28 years.  

Ferrell and three other police officers welcomed students and staff as they walked by their booth. Complimentary coffee, cookies and chocolates were laid out on the tables.Photo illustration: Mike Madriaga / John Suarez

“Seeing the same person (a police officer) and talking with them in a non-emergency situation is a way to build relationships and trust that benefit both students and police,” she said. “I think at the moment, and I don’t know this, but I suspect that the national political climate and incidents involving some police and some people of color over the past year have led to mistrust in equitable enforcement of the law.”

Giuliana Orlandoni, 25, agreed with Cressy’s statement and said that she supports the Black Lives Matter movement. “I respect them (the police) but I am a little bit skeptical when it comes to seeing those situations with cops and people in the streets.”

Ferrell got bombarded with a variety of questions. What are your hobbies? What do you like to do? What do you think about this type of enforcement – or something that happened in another incident that was seen in the media?

Orlandoni is studying at City College to be a social worker. “I like it,” she said. “I think that having the cops talking to the students — it might change our perception of everything that we are seeing in the media.”

Some undocumented students on campus are fearful to ask the police questions. “I think some of our students whose families are in danger of deportation are justifiably leery of law enforcement contact,” said Cressy.

Ferrell was quick to reiterate the sanctuary-status of our campus.

“Our department has practiced for many years (that) we don’t get involved with ICE or Border Patrol,” Ferrell said, “and we are definitely going to maintain that policy especially after the San Diego Community College District passed a resolution saying that we are a sanctuary district all throughout our campuses and continuing education.”

One question remained on the table for some students though. “They actually come up and ask me ‘do you actually listen to this stuff?’ – and I can actually have a conversation about the music and some of the experiences that I have. We do the same things that you do, and enjoy the same things that you do, and we want to build a better and stronger relationship with our community,” Ferrell said as he packed up and turned off his stereo at about 7 p.m.