INDIANAPOLIS — The name alone is enough to grab headlines and maintain everyone’s attention.
‘Defund the Police? Race, Policing, and Criminal Justice Reform’ is an available course at IUPUI, which covers the history of policing in the United States. Professor Thomas Stucky teaches the course. He says the title alone is causing quite a storm.
“It’s unfortunate that folks jumped to conclusions without actually understanding what the nature of the discussion would be,” Stucky tells WISH-TV.
Stucky, who is also the Executive Associate Dean at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI, says the class is vital to the growing discussion of race and policing in the United States, particularly this year. He says it’s important for students to be involved as well.
Stucky tells WISH-TV, “We’re talking about some of the most important issues in criminal justice so I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t open these questions for students to examine.”
So how would a police officer feel about this course? That’s where Doug Johnson enters the scene.
Johnson is the Chief of Police with Indiana University, which oversees the campus of IUPUI. He tells WISH-TV the class is more than necessary.
“Higher education has a moral obligation to ask these sorts of questions. Just because a topic is controversial or perceived to be controversial doesn’t mean these questions don’t need to be asked,” Johnson tells WISH-TV.
Some people have called for the class to be thrown out, or renamed entirely. But that’s something both Professor Stucky and Chief Doug Johnson disagree with.
“If I call it “21st Century Policing Practices,” do you think that resonates with people? I don’t know I’m going to get too many students taking that class,” says Stucky. Johnson had similar feelings when he told WISH-TV, “the university or the professor that’s leading the class shouldn’t change the name because it’s an unpopular name.”
Stucky says the course has actually generated some interest on campus, and he currently has 43 students in the class. He says he hopes to continue teaching the course in the future.