Faculty, staff and students at Appalachian State University take the opportunity each year during the week of Sept. 17 to engage our campus community in discussions about the U.S. Constitution, its history and its meaning in today’s world.
Join us for a series of events and educational opportunities:
In honor of the U.S. Constitution’s 233rd birthday, Appalachian State University’s Department of Government and Justice Studies presents a Constitution question-and-answer video featuring the university’s pre-law faculty: Dr. Paul Lucas, assistant professor; Dr. Kirstin Morgan, assistant professor; and Dr. Marian Williams, professor. The Q&A session is hosted by Dr. Phillip Ardoin, department chair.
Dr. Phillip Ardoin: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Appalachian State University and the Department of Government and Justice Studies' 2020 celebration of the U.S. Constitution. We have three exceptional guests here for us today to answer some of your questions about the Constitution and then discuss the Constitution a bit more. So let me go ahead and let our guests introduce themselves. Dr. Williams?
Dr. Marian Williams: Hi, I am Dr. Marian Williams. I am a faculty member, obviously, in the Department of Government and Justice Studies. I'm currently teaching constitutional law and, next semester, I'll be teaching civil rights and liberties and those are basically my two most favorite classes to teach. I like talking about the Constitution, so I'm happy to be here.
PA: Dr. Lucas?
Dr. Paul Lucas: Hey, thanks for joining us. I'm Dr. Paul Lucas. I'm an assistant professor here in the Department of Government and Justice Studies. I teach courses relating to the court system as well as problem-solving courts and punishment and sentencing, and I have a background working in particular problem-solving courts as well.
PA: Dr. Morgan?
Dr. Kirstin Morgan: Hi, I'm Dr. Kirstin Morgan. I'm also an assistant professor here in Government and Justice Studies. I also teach a lot of classes on courts with a particular focus on juvenile justice, and I have a lot of background studying court reforms.
PA: Got it. I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Dr. Phillip Ardoin and I'm chair of the Department of Government and Justice Studies. I'm going to start off and ask Dr. Williams to answer our first question, and that is: What's the difference between the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights?
MW: OK, well, the Declaration of Independence was ratified July 4th, 1776, to declare our independence from Britain, and it basically started the American Revolutionary War. It really has nothing to do with the Constitution or the Bill of Rights; it just essentially created our country for purposes of the war and converted our colonies to states in order to fight the Revolutionary War.
MW: After the Revolutionary War was over in 1783, we had a number of proposals to try to create a new government, but ultimately, our U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1789, and it was the blueprint of our government, the structure of our federal government, our three branches of government, the roles of the states in a federal system of government, and essentially, creating the federal government from the ground up.
MW: Our Bill of Rights was not ratified until 1791 and it contains the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution and those were the results of ant-federalists — basically, individuals who didn't support the federal U.S. Constitution because they felt that the U.S. Constitution did not provide enough individual rights for citizens — and so as a compromise to get their acceptance of the U.S. Constitution, they agreed to help support the ratification of the Constitution if a Bill of Rights was ultimately added, and so James Madison essentially wrote the Bill of Rights, had the states ratify them, and they were in place in 1791.
PA: Thank you. Next question is: Have the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, always been applicable to state governments and state court cases? Dr. Lucas?
PL: The short answer to that is no, they have not. As Dr. Williams was saying, the Bill of Rights, which was originally established in 1791 was a set of restrictions on federal power, not on individual state power, so the framers of the Constitution saw no need at that time to restrict the power of individual state governments through the federal Bill of Rights. Rather, they intended each state to create their own constitution on their own accord. This seemed to work fine until the era of reconstruction, which followed the Civil War.
PL: Essentially, after the Civil War, the federal government realized that state citizens need to have the same protections from their state governments as they were granted from the federal government, so as a result, the 14th Amendment was created to safeguard citizens from state tyranny. The due process clause within the 14th Amendment specifically forbids states from denying citizens due process of law or equal protection of the law.
PL: Now, importantly, the due process clause found in the 14th Amendment is identical to the due process clause found within the Fifth Amendment, so additionally, the equal protection clause, which is also found in the 14th Amendment, precludes states from making unequal, arbitrary and different distinctions between citizens and people within those states. Therefore, while the original Bill of Rights pertains solely to the federal government in federal cases, through the passage of the 14th Amendment, the federal Bill of Rights now applies to all citizens in each state within the United States.
PA: Thank you, Dr. Lucas. Next question is: Can the Supreme Court hear any case it wants? Dr. Williams?
MW: Yes and no. Technically, the U.S. Supreme Court is a federal appellate court and it can only have or hear cases dealing with the federal law and the U.S. Constitution, and so when we talk about the U.S. Supreme Court being the highest court in the land, it is simply the highest court dealing with those particular topics. Within those particular topics, the U.S. Supreme Court exercises immense discretion in choosing the cases at which it wishes to hear every term. On appeal and issues of review for the U.S. Supreme Court, every term the U.S. court gets upwards of 7,000, 8,000 requests for review, but every term, the U.S. Supreme Court always schedules arguments in about 80 of those cases, not 80%, 80 of those cases. So technically, the U.S. Supreme Court has vast discretion in terms of the cases that it chooses, but it is limited in jurisdiction to cases involving federal law and the U.S. Constitution.
PA: Thank you. What recourse do you have if you believe one of your constitutional rights has been violated? Dr. Morgan?
KM: Yeah, so really broadly, you have to take your case to court and it's a civil matter, not criminal, so you're going to go to a civil court. Usually, we're talking about a federal court, but sometimes, depending on the right that's been violated at the state level, you'll go through state courts first. You can hire an attorney, you can try to get someone to represent you for free as well. There are some organizations out there which are particularly focused on providing representation in civil rights cases, like the American Civil Liberties Union, and they may be willing to take your case through the court system.
KM: If you take your case to court, the Supreme Court has determined that there's two challenges that must be met to assert that some action has to be taken based on that violation. First, as the plaintiff, you have to identify the specific constitutional right which you're saying has been deprived. You can't just say "I think my rights have been violated broadly.” You have to identify was it something specific about your First Amendment right, freedom of speech, or Second Amendment right, to bear arms.
KM: Then you have to prove or state that the individual who deprived you of your right was acting as an agent of the government. This could include if that agent was abusing their power or acting outside of their lawful bounds, but they were acting as an agent of the government. You have to assert that as well. This also can sometimes cover private citizens working in conjunction with a government agency.
KM: Once you bring your case and you've stated those two things, the court is going to hear your case and decide if a right has been violated and they're also going to then decide, if it has, what the proper course of action, which in most cases is monetary damages because you can't bring the case until the right has been violated. For some people, this can also involve, though, a change in treatment, particularly for prisoners who are asserting that some of their rights have been violated in prison. It might result in their treatment being changed.
PA: Thank you. Does the Constitution prevent police from searching my apartment, searching my car, beating me up? Dr. Williams?
MW: No. This is a question I often get in my criminal procedure class. When students ask me, "Oh, I had a friend who was stopped by police," or, "We were having a party and the police showed up. Can they do this?" Now, the term you have to focus on is the word "can." Yes, police can do all of these things. They can, as we've seen, engage in deadly force and other types of force. They can search apartments, they can search cars, they can sick their police dogs on you. The question is: Is that behavior legal?
MW: The court system is responsible for determining if that type of action is legal and the U.S. Supreme Court has basically looked at the Fourth Amendment, that this amendment, the 14th Amendment due process clause, et cetera, to determine whether a lot of these police activities are, in fact, constitutional. And so, despite the fact that, for instance, the Fourth Amendment says that "No warrant shall issue but upon probable cause," the U.S. Supreme Court has designated certain types of searches and seizures can take place absent probable cause and absent a warrant, and so, in fact, the vast majority of arrests are made without a warrant and most searches and seizures are made without a warrant. And so when people ask "Can the police do this?" the answer is: It depends and it all depends on the circumstances of a particular incident and how the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on that particular type of case and whether or not police can get away with constitutionally violating your rights.
PA: Thank you. Next, what is qualified immunity? Dr. Morgan?
KM: That's a really great question because this doctrine of qualified immunity has come up a lot in the news recently as we're dealing with issues of police violence. Broadly, qualified immunity was created by the courts to shield government officials or government agents from being held personally liable for constitutional violations unless that violation was what they said was a "clearly established law." The goal of that was to protect government agents when they acted in good faith, right, to provide them some means of like, "I was trying to act in good faith. There wasn't anything clearly established that said I couldn't do this.” So in practice, that means that unless there's a law that addresses the specific situation and a specific violation, neither the government nor the agent is going to be held responsible for any monetary damages. This is important because, again, as we mentioned in an earlier question, you can only bring your case to court after your rights have been violated, and for most folks, then the only remedy is monetary damages.
KM: To overcome this doctrine of qualified immunity, you have to meet a couple of standards. First, you have to find an already existing judicial decision with what they say, substantially similar facts, so again, something that looks pretty much exactly like what your situation looks like. Then before the courts will declare there to be a violation of a constitutional right, they're going to first actually though consider that issue of qualified immunity, and this has created what some have called a "Catch-22," because if cases can't get past that first barrier, right, we never actually create what we call "judicial precedent," so a case that resembles your exact situation, then they just dismiss the case, they don't ever get to the question of was there a violation of your rights, they just say "Nope, qualified immunity, we're done," so we're never creating that precedent; thus, when the second person brings the case, it's still getting dismissed on qualified immunity.
KM: Basically, no precedent equals no clearly established law equals no liability for the government, and as one nonprofit put it, the Institute for Justice says qualified immunity means that government officials can get away with violating your rights as long as they violate them in a way nobody thought of before.
PA: Thank you. How can the president send troops into conflicts without Congress declaring war? Dr. Williams?
MW: Yeah, so the Constitution in Article I suggests — doesn't suggest, it explicitly says — that Congress has the power to declare war, whereas Article II discusses how the executive branch of the president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, so what we have are two entirely different but similar powers, but what it has been interpreted as is that simply Congress declares war, and once that happens, the president and the executive branch kind of takes over and directs the action of the war. However, as we know, we have seen skirmishes and conflicts, et cetera, in which our military has gone into Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Central America, et cetera, and the questions are asked, "How can the president direct the military to go into these places if Congress hasn't technically declared war on these entities?" Well, the answer is that Congress gives the president the permission to do this.
MW: One of the things that we really don't see and talk about — except for in my constitutional law class, I do talk about this — is that Congress routinely gives some of its powers away to the other branches of government and once it does that, there's no getting that power back, and so for instance, the Patriot Act, which was passed after 9/11 in 2001, gave the president the power to use all necessary inappropriate force to go after individuals, nationalities, countries, groups, terrorist groups, et cetera, that were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. And so once Congress passes laws that give the president the power to do this, Congress simply cannot take that power back without any type of political or legal ramifications. So in essence, Congress has allowed the president to do these and pretty much cannot take that power back from the president.
PA: Has the right to an attorney always been granted by the Constitution to individuals accused of felony offenses at the state level? Dr. Lucas?
PL: Yeah, great question. The right to an attorney, often referred to as the right to counsel, refers to the right of an individual accused of breaking the law to having a lawyer assist in their defense even when the accused is indigent, meaning impoverished and cannot afford to pay their lawyer fees on their own. Now, this right is constitutionally granted through the Sixth Amendment for federal prosecutions. However, it did not include the right to counsel within prosecutions at the state level. It was believed that each state should govern itself, and therefore, each state would be able to grant, if their citizens requested it, the right to counsel as it would have been through the federal Bill of Rights and applied to federal cases. However, the right to counsel was not applied across the board to all state prosecutions for felony offenses until 1963 through the decision of the now-famous court case Gideon v. Wainwright.
PL: If you think about that, 1963 was only 57 years ago, so that means prior to 1963, if you were impoverished and could not afford your own attorney, then you had no constitutional right or basis to counsel during state felony prosecutions. This is not that long ago for a common right and one that I think we are all aware of, whether through TV or other readings for this right to be fully established only 57 years ago. So I think this shows the importance of having a system which allows change, especially when setting judicial precedent to ensure a more just system for all when we're talking about the adjudication process through the courts.
PA: Thank you. When does the right to counsel attach? Dr. Williams?
MW: Well, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, it attaches at "Every critical stage of a proceeding," and what that means depends on how the U.S. Supreme Court wants to interpret that, and so we've seen U.S. Supreme Court cases that have stated ... Well, OK, police interrogations. Miranda v. Arizona said that you have the right to counsel during police interrogations. That's considered custodial interrogation, and as a result, it is an important stage or a critical stage of the proceeding. However, that's not necessarily considered where the right to counsel attaches because people always look at this as a court-related right.
MW: But when we look at things like first appearances and bail hearings, even though those technically could be called "critical stages of proceedings," because a lot of people plead guilty at first appearance, or they have bail decisions that are made without an attorney present in those situations. It is common practice to not have individuals given attorneys then, and so what is happening is that a number of defendants are pleading guilty or they're getting unfavorable bail decisions and more at the early stages of a criminal court case after they'd been arrested, and as a result, they're being deprived of their rights.
MW: We also see the right to counsel attaching any time an individual is given some sort of incarcerated sentence, and so for a lot of misdemeanor defendants who aren't going to be incarcerated, who aren't going to be given jail time will only be given probation, or a fine, or something along those lines — the right to counsel for indigent defendants does not attach for those people. However, it should be said that if you can afford an attorney, you can have one at any stage of the case. It's just that the vast majority of individuals in the criminal justice system are considered indigent for purposes of counsel, and therefore, they need that attorney present at all of these stages, essentially for custodial interrogation onward through their appeal.
PA: Thank you. Last question: Do the rights granted in the Bill of Rights apply to private business? Dr. Morgan?
KM: Yeah. Again, this is one that I hear a lot in my classes, too. The guarantees of the Bill of Rights apply only to actions taken by state and federal governments and their agents. They do not limit what a company or person in the private sector may do in most cases. A great example of this, and you've all probably heard this, where some TV personality or radio host says something that many people find offensive and they lose their job because of it, right, or they lose their TV show, and in those cases, you've also probably seen the inevitable comments, "But you can't. Their First Amendment rights. They can say what they want." Right? We know offensive speech is protected. I'm allowed to say offensive things and the government can't stop me from saying them. However, in those cases, the business that employed that person is perfectly within their rights to fire them. The First Amendment does not protect you from the consequences of your actions if those consequences are enacted by private businesses who employ you.
KM: Now, there are broadly four exceptions to this. First, if the government is your employer, you do have some more free speech protections to not lose your job with the government, not unlimited, but generally, if you're addressing a public concern and it's clear you're doing it as a private citizen rather than a government employee, that speech is still protected. They can't fire you as the government for that. You can also use your free speech rights to do things like collective bargaining, right? So thinking how unions work to try to get better benefits or pay for their employees, that's protected. They can't fire you for that, so that's another way where the Bill of Rights does provide some protections from private pushback.
KM: However, if an employer's actions only impact a certain class of people, so what we call "protected classes." Protected classes include things like race, religion, national origin, disability, age and sex. If they only impact one of those groups specifically and don't impact everyone equally, if they don't apply the same standards, that is discrimination, right? That's a different kind of when they're going after you. That's not, "Hey, I can go after you because I don't have to apply the Bill of Rights.” You're discriminating.
KM: Finally, states can also make laws that go further than the Bill of Rights, so do be aware they can grant you protections from employers, just that the federal Bill of Rights does not technically apply to private businesses. But for example, California has provided, as a state, a lot of extra protections. They have a law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their political activities or affiliation outside of work, so that means you can't maybe put all your political stuff up in your office, but whatever you're doing on your own time, they can't fire you for that. Not every state provides those protections, though. There are states where they can require you to remove a bumper sticker or take something off your social media or you lose your job, and you're not protected from that, so just remember, the Bill of Rights only protects you broadly from state and federal government actions with a few exceptions.
PA: Well, thank you, Dr. Williams, Dr. Morgan and Dr. Lucas for answering some of our questions about the U.S. Constitution. We have a few minutes left and what I'd like to end on is maybe each of you could share with us a fun fact or issue about the Constitution that you might want to share with us. So we'll go ahead and start with Dr. Lucas.
PL: Yeah, so it took 60 separate ballots for the delegates to finally accept the Electoral College — something that has been in the news and has been the topic of recent debate. So, proponents believe that it was the best compromise between those who wanted to choose the president via direct popular vote and those who wanted a congressional vote, and since then, there have been more than 500 propositions to reform or eliminate the Electoral College, and certainly many more possibly in the near future.
PA: Dr. Williams?
MW: What I think is interesting is that our original Bill of Rights that were proposed were actually 12 instead of 10 Amendments. Ultimately, the first two were not ratified, so numbers three through 12 were actually ratified. The original First Amendment dealt with congressional representation, and the original Second Amendment dealt with congressional pay. Ultimately, our 27th Amendment, our last one that was ratified in 1992, was the original Second Amendment dealing with congressional pay. And so what I like to point out is that when students talk about free speech and press and the religion clauses of the First Amendment as being the most important in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, I like to remind them that it was actually number three in the original proposal, so they're probably not as important as people thought they were.
PA: Thank you. Dr. Morgan?
KM: Yeah, so kind of related to that issue, what's interesting, I always found, is that our Constitution is the shortest governing document of any nation today. It still is. I mean, we've added to it since it started, as Dr. Williams was just talking about, and it's still the shortest. It has seven articles, 27 amendments and that's it. It's also the oldest. Norway was second. They had theirs codified in 1814, but we were the first to do it and we've still kept it pretty short, which is really interesting when you think about other nations have added a lot more to their constitutions over time or started with a much larger constitution.
PA: I'll end up with … I've one fun fact that I like to always remind my students in American government is when we talk about the founding fathers and the Philadelphia Convention, I think it's important for us to remember that those delegates were not sent to Philadelphia to write a constitution. They were sent to Philadelphia to actually amend the Articles of Confederation, that initial sort of Federalists or Confederation loose/weak national government. That's one reason why they decided not to speak about what they were doing during the convention, because they knew that if their state legislators found out that they had scrapped the Articles of Confederation in creating this new government, which was going to be a new national government which was going to be much more powerful, they probably would have called them back.
PA: Some people say that the Philadelphia Convention was actually a rebellion or a revolt, and there are still some groups out there that might question the legitimacy of our U.S. Constitution, but we ratified it and it is our Constitution. We're very proud of it. It's served us well for over 230 years and let's hope it serves us well for at least another 230 years.
KM: We'll hope.
PA: Thank you all for participating in this and happy Constitution to all of you. Bye-bye.
MW: Thank you. Bye-bye.
Appalachian State University's virtual forum on race and policing, held Sept. 16 and sponsored by the Department of Government and Justice Studies, was part of a weeklong series of events and educational opportunities in recognition of Constitution Day.
The forum featured Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Johnny Jennings ’90; Dr. Lorie Fridell, a nationally recognized scholar on issues relating to race and policing; and Winston-Salem Police Department Assistant Chief Wilson Weaver ’07. The forum was hosted by Dr. Chris Marier, a criminal justice faculty member at Appalachian.
Dr. Chris Marier: Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining us. Welcome to our Constitution Week roundtable discussion on race and policing. Back in May, a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd for nearly nine minutes, with George Floyd passing away. That event, and others since, including recent events in Kenosha, Wisconsin, have reignited a nationwide condemnation and a discussion about both race and the use of force by police.
CM: Here, as we're kicking off Constitution Week, we hope to be able to contribute to that discussion today. We have several great guests joining us today, including two of our graduates of Appalachian State University. First I'd like to introduce Chief Johnny Jennings. He's the chief of police at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. He earned his master's degree in criminal justice here at App State, where he was also a star linebacker.
CM: He also holds an MBA, and he's a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He's been with CMPD for nearly 30 years. So, Chief Jennings, thank you for being here. I think we have you on mute, Chief Jennings. Is there any ...
Chief Johnny Jennings: Oh, yeah. Does that work? Appreciate you. Thanks for having me. I'm honored to be here.
CM: Next up, we have Assistant Chief Wilson Weaver, and he joins us from the Winston-Salem Police Department, where he's worked since 1984. He earned his master's degree in public administration here at App State. In his 36 years of experience he's worked in or supervised nearly every assignment for the department it looks like. Chief Wilson, it's great to have you here.
Chief Wilson Weaver: Thank you, sir. I'm honored to be here and a part of this. Thank you so much.
CM: Dr. Lorie Fridell is a professor of criminology at the University of South Florida, and an expert in both law enforcement and racial bias. She's the former director of PERF, which is the Police Executive Research Forum, and she is currently the CEO of Fair and Impartial Policing LLC, which provides police training on the issue of bias. But perhaps her greatest accomplishment is actually mentoring me through my Ph.D. at the University of South Florida. Dr. Fridell, glad you could be here.
Dr. Lorie Fridell: Thank you very much, Chris. I'm honored to be part of this important discussion.
CM: For those who may not know me yet, I'm a new faculty member, assistant professor of criminal justice here in the Department of Government and Justice Studies. I'm also a former police officer, having worked for seven years in assignments both in patrol and School Resource Officer on the Florida Gulf Coast. I'm honored to have been asked to host this panel on race and policing, and again, I'm excited to have everyone here.
CM: Before I dive in, I just want to let our audience members and attendees know that the webinar that we're doing is a little bit different than other Zoom meetings. Instead of a chat, we have a Q&A, so if any of the audience members, at any point, have a question that they want to ask, go ahead to put it in the Q&A. There's no need to ... Although we may not answer them until the end of the session, there's no need to wait to ask those questions.
CM: We'll leave some time at the end to do a little bit of Q&A back and forth with our panelists. Chief Jennings, I want to start with you. The George Floyd incident that was really that catalyst for this renewed call for reform in policing, occurred right around the time you were promoted to chief, I believe. I believe that the announcement that you were getting a promotion came about a week before the incident and you were actually sworn in a week later.
CM: You kind of stepped in right at the height, peak tension in this country. I'm just curious though, what were you thoughts? What went through your mind when you first saw that video?
JJ: Well, it's funny. I had a friend that called me and said the video was out, and asked me to look at it and tell me what I thought as someone who wasn't a police officer because generally you hear of these things, and you can sometimes look at them and say, "Well, we don't know the entirety of the story. We don't know what else went on outside of that camera." And when I saw that, there was nothing.
JJ: I could not imagine what could have happened to lead up to an incident where you have to kneel on someone's neck for almost nine minutes. I was sick to my stomach. It was something that I couldn't believe, and I called the guy back, my friend back, and I said, "This is murder. He intentionally tried to kill this gentleman." Because you have to know if you're going to have your knee and put your weight on someone's neck, that that's going to be the outcome.
JJ: I was disgusted with what I saw, and then even after that, I was concerned with the profession that I'd grown to love over the last 30 years in my police department, which we have a great police department here in Charlotte. I was concerned with what the backlash we would see as a result of this incident.
CM: Speaking to that, have you seen some backlash? I understand that there were some protests in Charlotte. I'm just kind of curious how you guys have managed. Then, I believe you also had the Republican National Convention just on the heels of that as well. Kind of speak to some of your experiences there with trying to manage these public relations in such trying times.
JJ: Yeah, we've had a very interesting last few several months. Yeah, we did. We saw several days of rioting in Charlotte. We saw several days of peaceful protesting in Charlotte. Believe it or not, some of the largest demonstrations were the most peaceful. We had close to 10,000 people that marched the streets of Charlotte with no incident whatsoever. The only police interaction was us ensuring traffic safety and traffic control.
JJ: Some of the smaller ones, where you have the groups that intentionally come out to confront the police officers, or to damage property, we had some looting, we had some damage to property. I've had several officers that were injured during the several days of rioting that took place, and it was a trying time for officers; 12-hour shifts, no days off. And we went through a great deal of soul-searching during that time, and trying to make sure we do better as an agency, not just to police our community, but how do we handle situations of unrest like this.
JJ: We're still learning to this day and we continue to learn, but it was an incident where we were truly affected by it, and we also have to look at our well-being for our officers as well. So, their mental health state is important to me also.
CM: That's something I think I want to come back to in just a little bit because it's obvious that there have been some concerns about how these events have affected both communities and officers. I'm going to return to that in just a bit. I did want to ask, when we look at incidents like the George Floyd incident, do you see this as an indication of systemic problems in policing or do you believe it boils down to a few bad apples?
CM: I bring this up because you mentioned how, often times, we see controversial events that turn out to perhaps have some justifiability or some explanation. You kind of eluded to that, but when you saw this video, you didn't really see that. When you see these types of events, again, do you think they speak to systemic problems, or it's just a bad apple scenario?
JJ: I really believe, and I've said this, that what we saw across the country was not just about George Floyd in that incident. I think that is an accumulation of everything that we've seen where there are cases out there that you look at as a police department or a member of the law enforcement community that you can't explain.
JJ: I've seen several that upset me just as much as it does anyone in the public that you can't explain. And so I think what we're looking at is, sort of, I hate to use this term but, the straw that broke the camel's back, where we said that, the country said that we keep seeing this same narrative over and over.
JJ: Nothing's being done. Now it's time to be heard to make sure that we force that something is done, and that's the difference that you've see here. We've seen riots in the past in Charlotte before, but they're only three or four days. We went through two or three weeks of rioting here. What we're looking at now is a unified voice that is demanding change, and now you're seeing agencies across the country accepting and willingness to start to do that change. We've done the same thing here in Charlotte.
CM: Kind of on the heels of that, I guess, what would you say to those, there are critics out there, those who argue that bias is not that big of an issue in policing, or that improper use of force, that those are statistically negligible incidents in policing. What would you say to those people who try to dismiss those kinds of concerns that way?
JJ: Well, I've always said that perception is reality. If the public perceives there to be an issue, I think it's worth that we pay attention to that, and we look at that. Yeah, obviously I do believe that you look at what we do as a profession across the country. Law enforcement has over six million contacts with our citizens in the United States every year on average. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has over 600,000 every year.
JJ: You can take one incident, and throw it on social media. You can throw it in the media, and it broad strokes the profession as racist, and that we are uncaring, and that we're out looking to confront minorities, and I don't think that's the true narrative of what our profession is about, however when you have a few that spark those incidents, and that's what's seen throughout the media, then we have to be able to say "Take a look at ourselves and see how do we stop even those that we're not perfect." We're human, but we have to continue to get better and to be accountable when our officers step out of line.
CM: I've got a question, and Chief Weaver, I'm going to have you try to answer this or address this as well. So a few of our students have questions about police deployment and racial profiling. Some communities, some groups have argued that they're overpoliced. For instance, in New York, this led to a lot of suspicion with stops and the controversy over stop and frisk.
CM: On the other hand, we know that police deployment is usually higher in some neighborhoods because violence is geographically concentrated. The violence doesn't occur evenly throughout the city, so our officers aren't distributed evenly throughout the city. I'm getting at this issue that deploying the police, more police sometimes looks like it's racial profiling, less police looks like it's neglecting legitimate victims, and it creates controversy either way.
CM: I guess my question is how do you maintain this kind of balancing act? Does it even enter your mind when you're concerned about police deployment in specific neighborhood problems, and how do you address this sort of criticism that you're going to get either way? Is this a no-win scenario?
WW: Just so I'm clear, are you ready for me now?
CM: Actually, either way. I would love for both of you kind of to jump in on this, but if you want to go first, Chief Weaver, that would be great.
WW: Sure, that's fine. Keeping in mind about the police deployment, we are typically deployed based on a lot of our statistical data that we are able to capture on a daily, monthly, yearly basis. One of the things I'd like to point out, especially for Winston-Salem, is that in the month before George Floyd's death, we had approximately 15,100 requests for police service across our city. In the month after George Floyd's death, we had 16,900 calls for request for service from the police by our citizens.
WW: Almost a 2,000 call load increase in just a month's period of time surrounding the death of George Floyd. What that tells us is that our community has trust in the police department, and also that our community is requesting the police to come out. You hear a lot of times some of our critics stating that people don't trust police, that they're being overpoliced and things along those lines, but what we're finding is that our people are requesting us, and that is what drives a lot of our response into most of these communities.
WW: There are people that need our assistance, and so they request us and they call through 911, so that we can give that assistance. I'd also like to add, too, like Chief Jennings was upset at what he saw involving the George Floyd incident, not knowing anything about the Minneapolis Police Department, or Minnesota state law regarding how policing is done, one of the things that I was confused about and also hurt about was the fact that there were other officers on scene that allowed that to go on for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
WW: Thinking to myself, and I did not see in the video any point in which someone stated, "Guy, we've got control of him. Get off of him." If you understand what I'm saying. I think that caused a lot of what upset the citizens throughout the United States because they didn't see anything being done to stop the officer who was taking that illegal action against George Floyd.
CM: Could I ask you a question?
WW: Yes, sir.
CM: Think back to being a rookie, would you have had the balls, the cojones, to step in to an officer with 20 years of experience? I'm not excusing their behavior in any way, because I think that if you're watching someone die, you have to step in, but do you think that sort of power dynamic plays a role in ... I believe two of those officers were just a week or two on the job, isn't that right?
WW: Right. That is correct, and I understand where you're coming from, but keep in mind too, my rookie season was 1985. Things were done a bit differently back in the '80s as they are right now, and even though, eventually when you see that someone was being hurt, doing right is not always easy, but it's always right.
WW: Even back during those times, if I would have had one of my more senior officers to do some type of action like that, I would have at least asked the question, "Is there something else that we can do to get this person under control, get them under control, handcuffed and transport them out of the area," because we in law enforcement know the longer we are on the scene, more people will gather, and that was even before the days of everyone having a cell phone camera.
WW: Being able to get control of the person, go ahead and transport them out of the area so we don't have the large crowds gathering is one of the things that we look to do. As it is now, in 2020, we teach our recruits in our basic law enforcement training class that they have that duty to intervene when they see something that's being wrong. At least you're asking a question or you're calling a supervisor if something's going on, even if that is your training coach.
CM: OK. Chief Jennings, is it the same sort of thing there now, where recruits are specifically taught to intervene if there's an apparent duty to act?
JJ: Yeah, not just that, we've actually implemented it in our policy. We put it in our neglect of duty rule of conduct. When I came on, I could easily sit here and say that what I can do is hope that I would have intervened in a situation like this. Even just to say "Hey, I've got this." I know something's out of control. You go over to another officer, and let them know that you can take over because you see it's not going well.
JJ: I can sit and tell you I would hope that I would intervene in a situation like that, but at this point, with it being in policy, and a requirement for officers, we give them no choice when you have a situation like this, that they must intervene. I just spoke with some potential sergeants in a class yesterday, and I speak with our rookie recruit class consistently that you have to be able to step in regardless if it's your first day on the street intervening with someone who has 20 or 30 years on.
JJ: Also, if you have 20 or 30 years on, you have to understand when someone intervenes, they're seeing something that you may not be comprehending while you're dealing with that situation, so you have to allow for that intervention as well.
CM: What I hear both of you saying is that these events that happened halfway across the country have actually impacted the way things are done in your agencies. That's a positive, but the flip side of that coin is that a shooting that happens, a bad shoot that happens in Seattle or Sacramento can undermine confidence in the police in Winston-Salem, right? What do you do to build strong police-community relationships when literally cops in another city can end up erasing any of your gains overnight?
WW: Unfortunately, this is not a new phenomenon. I can think back to when the Rodney King incident occurred in Los Angeles. That had negative effects all the way on the East Coast and in Winston-Salem also. I'm sure it did in Charlotte also. With that, our agency has been engaged in community-oriented policing since 1989. We affirmatively go out and build relationships with members of our community, with community organizations, as well as the businesses, so that we can have those positive relationships with our community in those times that are noncontentious.
WW: We'd like to go out and be able to pass out business cards, talk to people, do things for our citizens that we can to be as a positive interaction so that in the times when we're going to have those negative confrontations, and they do happen, that at least in our city, we're fortunate enough that people will tend to give us the benefit of the doubt until the full report comes out, if that makes sense.
JJ: Yeah. As unfortunate as it is, that's reality now. That something that happens across the country affects all of us as a profession. It's funny because throughout my career, particularly as a member of command staff here, I've been with Charlotte my entire career, we have always seen stuff that has occurred in other parts of the country as well as things that occur here in Charlotte, and the first thing we do, pretty much within 24 hours, we're looking at our policy to see, do we have something to address this?
JJ: We pride ourselves on being a learning agency. We are changing policy when we see some holes or gaps that things that we couldn't comprehend would happen, we make sure that we cover that. I know our officers are probably getting tired of all the updates, but that's what we're here to do, and make sure that we learn not just from our mistakes but from other mistakes as well.
WW: If I can add one more aspect of what Chief Jennings just said, the Winston-Salem Police Department does the exact same thing. In fact, we have already started looking at the settlement that was reached in Louisville, Kentucky, with the Breonna Taylor estate and family to see if there are any changes that we need to make. One of the ones that I saw immediately is that now there will be command-level approval of search warrants that are going to be served.
WW: Winston-Salem Police Department, we already had to have supervisory approval before our search warrants were presented to a judicial official. Now, we're probably going to modify our policy so that it has to have command-level approval also before it goes before a judicial official.
CM: That's great. I'm glad to hear that. That actually leads into something that I really want to address in kind of looking at accountability more broadly. What we saw with the Breonna Taylor case was essentially what really began as relatively minor oversights that probably get dismissed because they don't have tragic consequences over and over again, and so when it comes to accountability, I guess ...
CM: Other events include like Eric Garner in New York, right, the prohibited choke hold. Ninety-nine out of 100 times that's not going to lead to a death. You look at Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and he wasn't buckled in. Ninety-nine our of 100 times, somebody who's not buckled isn't going to end up dead in the back of the police van. We can go on, and on, and on. I guess my question is, in my experience, in my understanding of it, is that departments tend to overlook these minor issues because, again, the vast majority of the time they're going to have absolutely not consequence.
CM: What happens though is that sort of builds a culture, or a pattern, or a practice that ends up kind of allowing these sorts of tragic events like we've seen in Baltimore, or New York, and Minneapolis, and so on. I guess my question is how do we hold officers accountable more consistently? Their supervisor's not always out in the field watching everything they do.
CM: My question for both of you is do we find a way to start holding officers accountable for what are essentially minor infractions that still have the potential to cause great harm, and what kind of backlash are you going to get from your officers when you start writing memorandums of counseling for not buckling up a prisoner? I know there's a lot there, but I'm just kind of curious about your thoughts on that, on how we go about accountability when really each one of these tragic events really started with a relatively small violation of department policy?
JJ: Yeah, I'll try to start that off, and answer that, as much of that as I can. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, first of all you have to have clear, concise rules of conduct. You have to have clear policies and regulations that officers understand that leaves no room for interpretation. That's why I say we look at that constantly when things happen internally or externally where we can improve.
JJ: Now, I'll tell you that we, here at our department, we do a very good job of policing ourselves. The majority of our complaints are internal complaints, which means officers holding others accountable. We also have checks that we can catch everything, obviously. You're correct if you let a few things go, then how much more does that lead to? It's a domino effect, in that sense. We do have accountability processes within our agency where we're doing spot checks on body-worn cameras.
JJ: Each officer has to be checked by supervisors on a regular basis, and then we also check the supervisors to ensure they're doing those checks. There's a couple of layers there of accountability, and when there is a policy violation, if that's seen by, whether it's a supervisor or an officer, one of the rules of conduct also requires them to report that information. If I'm an officer, and I see a violation of policy, and I don't report that, I'm also committing a violation of policy.
JJ: The checks and balances are there. I will tell you, we're still human. We're not going to be perfect all the time, and unfortunately, when we do make mistakes, they're in the spotlight. You're absolutely correct that, often times, you see things that happen, it doesn't turn into a tragedy, so do we do enough on the front end to make sure that corrective action is in place so that it doesn't happen again? Part of our disciplinary philosophy is degree of harm. Not just the degree of harm that happens, but what is the potential degree of harm by what we do and how we respond to certain situations.
WW: For the Winston-Salem Police Department, our mantra, more or less, is in our custody, in our care. We're doing everything that we can to ensure that whether they're our arrestees or whether they're people we're just giving rides to, we're doing everything possible to ensure their safety, and that they get to a location.
WW: Keep in mind that law enforcement operates in and environment where things happen, and because things happen, we really encourage our personnel to almost look at every case as what possibly could go wrong in this particular circumstance as a worst-case scenario, so to speak, and then try and anticipate the things they need to do to make sure that our arrestees, or people in our custody are also in our care, and we're doing everything that we can to deliver them to the location that we're trying to get them to as safely as possible.
WW: I confer with the things that Chief Jennings says up to and including one of the sessions that I had with some of my supervisors yesterday. Talked about the incident that's occurring right now in Rochester, New York, where, nationally, people are questioning the use of spit hoods or spit socks. Looking at those and ensuring now that, for our department, we have a supervisor that is viewing the person that a spit hood or a spit sock is going to apply to so that they can go out and make any type of necessary adjustments as the supervisor that may need to be made so that the person who is in our custody remains safe while they're in our care.
CM: I'm encouraged to hear that. That incident in Rochester, I believe it was somebody was suffering either mental health or a drug crisis at the time, right? I want to talk a little bit about, and we're running a little short of time. So many things we could talk about, but one thing I wanted to talk about was this police response to those sort of special circumstances, those noncriminal circumstances, and these recent calls to defund the police.
CM: Before I do, I want to play a quick clip for the audience, and have you guys respond. Bear with me just a moment.
Chief David Brown: We're asking cops to do so much in this country. We are. We're just asking us to do too much. Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding. Let the cop handle it. Not enough drug conviction funding. Let's give it to the cop. Here in Dallas, we've got a loose dog problem. Let's have the cops chasing loose dogs. Schools failed. Give it to the cops. Seventy percent of the African American community is being raised by single women. Let's give it to the cops to solve that as well.
DB: That's too much to ask. Policing was never meant to solve all those problems. I just ask for other parts of our democracy, along with the free press, to help us, to help us, and not put the burden all on law enforcement to resolve.
CM: We see there basically that the chief of police is arguing that the police are overstretched, and that maybe they've been assigned duties that ... just too many duties, and duties that maybe they're ill-equipped to respond to. In a lot of ways, what I hear former Chief Brown saying kind of reflects some of the things that some of these defund the police advocates are arguing for right now.
CM: To be honest, looking back at even my own career, one of the assignments that officers tripped over themselves to get, they were the fun, exciting, zero tolerance type of assignments. They want to be in SWAT. They want to be in narcotics. They want to be in the Criminal Investigations Bureau. They're not tripping over themselves to get into community policing and crisis intervention. It's sad but true.
CM: Some of those slots in some agencies stay open for months or years because they just don't have a lot of demand for it. It seems to me, then, that there's agreement between these defund the police advocates, certain chiefs of police, and even the line-level officers who complain the most about the social service type calls when all they really want to do is go out and chase bad guys.
CM: Chief Jennings, I'll put it to you first. Is there an opportunity here for, is there enough common ground to begin the conversation about shifting resources from the criminal justice system into some of these other social services?
JJ: Yeah, I actually watched that press conference live, and 100% was on board with chief when he made those comments. I've said, and been consistent here, that we do a lot of things that we have identified as a police agency. We've gone out and sought funding through grants and other sources to be able to put certain programs and things in place. We do that because we see a need.
JJ: Now, when you say, "We want to defund the police," there are several different definitions of that, but I've been pretty consistent in that if there are things that we do as a police agency that we don't have to be doing, that another entity can do it just as well, if not better, then I'm all for that. Move whatever you need to move over to get that done because we see the need. It doesn't have to be us fulfilling that need, so if it can get fulfilled, then let's do it.
JJ: The fact of where you have certain cities across the country that are defunding the police, and taking budget just for the sake of taking budget, and it's causing them to lay people off or to fire officers, then I'm totally against that because it's more of a punishment aspect when you look at it in a form of, "I'm going to take budget money from you just because we, the public, is being vocal against your profession."
JJ: Again, we know that there are programs and things that need to be done. If they can be done better, and it doesn't have to be done by police, then I'll be the first one to sign off on that.
WW: I concur with Chief Jennings. There are so many things that law enforcement is being asked to do that doesn't have a whole lot to do with the physical security of particular municipality or of a county. With that being the case, other agencies are able to take up some of those items. As one, we'll talk about mental commitments. There are other agencies that can deal with nonviolent people having mental illness episodes that the police don't necessarily need to be involved in, and really wouldn't need to be involved in unless it became violent with some kind of threat.
WW: With that being the case, having other social agencies being able to take over some of those responsibilities would be a good thing for police and we could get, more or less, back towards ensuring the physical security of our city.
CM: Great points all the way around, and I'm glad you guys addressed that because I think that sometimes that defund the police narrative is misconstrued, or misunderstood, or perhaps there just isn't agreement yet on even what that term means.
WW: Let me add this, too, if you don't mind. When we talk about defund the police, the critics that are stating that that needs to be done, and I know that they realize that there's a lot of money in police budgets. The vast majority of that money goes to salary and benefits to pay the personnel that have to do this job 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in all weather conditions and have to address all [inaudible 00:33:12]. Right now, that includes going all the way out into being the first line in counterterrorism.
WW: With that, the police are asked to do a whole lot, but in all honesty, as you start defunding the police, that means that services will have to be cut, and our underserved communities will be the first one to feel the brunt of those service cuts.
CM: I was thinking the same thing. Defunding the police, if we start shifting those resources elsewhere, that unfortunately the communities that probably need the most urgent and the most acute kind of mental health, drug problems, those kinds of things are going to be in the communities with the lowest tax base, which is kind of already an issue with certain police departments as it is.
CM: I think that it's important still to have this discussion because I think you both bring up great points about where opportunities might exist to find common ground there. We're talking about responses, what we can do about the sort of problems we're facing. We talked about accountability. We've talked about alternative social services. We haven't really had a chance yet to hit on recruiting and HR. If we have some time, we'll come back to it.
CM: Right now I want to turn though to training. I'm going to bring Dr. Fridell into the conversation here. So, Dr. Fridell, you've mentioned elsewhere that everyone is biased. We're all biased. What do you mean by that?
LF: Well, it turns out, Chris, that for many years the social scientists thought that bias only manifested as what we commonly call explicit bias. A person with explicit bias has animus and hostility towards groups, and acts on his or her stereotypes with impunity and with lack of concern about discrimination. Almost by accident the social scientists discovered that bias actually manifests in another way as well, implicit biases. And indeed, all of us have implicit biases.
LF: We link various groups of people, that grouping might be based on race, LGBTQ, documentation status, we link them to stereotypes. Those stereotypes can impact on our perceptions as well as our behavior. The bad news, Chris, is this can happen outside of conscious awareness, even in well-intentioned people who reject at the conscious level biases, stereotypes and prejudice.
CM: If every one of us is biased, then what can we do? Is this just something we have to live with? If we know the police officers are biased, if we know that ... I think I've seen studies even that ER doctors tend to have preferential treatment for white patients, and so on. What do we do? If every one of us has this, or it's that widespread, what can we do?
LF: There's actually a voluminous body of research looking at how we can address our implicit biases. I'm going to simplify by talking about reducing our biases and managing our biases. These are different mechanisms, because if I have an implicit association, reducing my biases means I'm going to try and weaken that association so it doesn't pop into my head. I don't have this blink response, for instance, when I see a black male, it's a blink response threat. I'm trying to weaken it, ideally eliminate it.
LF: Then, we can also manage our biases. Managing our biases is more accessible because it takes us a long time to reduce the biases that took us a lifetime to develop. Managing our biases comes in kind of three elements. If we recognize our implicit associations, and we are motivated, we can choose to implement bias-free behavior. We're basically overriding our implicit associations, our implicit biases, through recognition, and choosing bias-free behavior.
LF: The recognition part is important because I said that implicit biases can impact us outside of conscious awareness, but once I found out about that science, I started to recognize so many times every day that my implicit biases popped into my head. I had these blink responses. See, once you recognize them, if you're one of those people that rejects biases, and stereotypes and prejudices, that means you're motivated and you can choose to implement bias-free behavior.
CM: I understand that you teach this stuff, the implicit bias training, at police agencies. Do you know how many agencies or officers you've trained so far?
LF: It's not just me. I've got 25 sworn trainers that do this. I don't know how many we've done, because I never expected to be a business woman and I didn't keep count. But we have trained hundreds of agencies across North America. We have reached tens of thousands of officers. I mean we just finished all of NYPD, which is 36,000 right there. We do small, medium and large. Large cities like Boston, Miami, NYPD, Toronto. A small agency that we did recently in July was the Appalachian State University PD.
CM: Fantastic. Can you describe the program a little bit? How could it improve policing, whether it's on the streets or even decisions that are made internally?
LF: Good. Our key goals are these. We want to help police recognize the biases that they may not know they have. Provide them with the skills and techniques they need for addressing those human biases. Then also produce the motivation to use those skills and techniques. We insist on basic training, even in COVID times, being face to face in small groups with a lot of interaction between the trainer and the trainees, and amongst the trainees.
LF: It's very engaging. It's based on adult learning skills. There's scenarios and so forth. We don't allow people like the assistant chief or Chief Jennings in the room because we want [inaudible 00:39:12] discussion while we're doing this training. Indeed, we have different trainings for the patrol officers, the supervisors, mid managers and command because I said we have to give them skills and techniques. Those actually vary depending on which group you are in.
CM: Are the officers pretty receptive to this training? I recall the sensitivity training we did in the academy or the in-service sensitivity training that we had that was ... It was either hostilely resisted or just considered a joke. How receptive are the officers to this specific version of ...?
LF: Well, picture my trainers walking into a group of 30 supervisors that have been on the job 15 or 20 years, anywhere in the country, and you're right, Chris, it's not unusual for that group to be somewhere between defensive and outright hostile. I totally understand that. It's the way we've talked about bias in policing. It's the way we've trained them before. We basically treated cops as if they're all racist.
LF: That's what they expect when they hear they're going to fair and impartial policing training. That's one of the reasons why we have to have sworn cops in the front of the room to give instant credibility. Then Chris, we start talking to them about how their minds work. We tell them, "We're not here to talk to you about the science of police bias. It's the science of human bias, but how your human biases can make you unsafe, can make you ineffective and make you unjust."
LF: Even though we really do, we find a lot of resistance coming in, we end up getting rave reviews. My favorite comments are ones that say something like, "I thought it was going to be garbage. I thought somebody was going to shake their finger at me. This is one of the most valuable trainings I've had in my entire career."
CM: That's great. I really like the work that you're doing. I think this is an important topic, and I see great opportunities here.
WW: Chris, can I give you some practical application?
WW: Sure. Fortunately, I was able to study under Dr. Fridell when she came to North Carolina about four or five years ago. As she made me aware of the implicit bias aspect. I was able to take it back to the Winston-Salem Police Department and start talking with our command staff about this concept. Although Dr. Fridell's organization did not train our department, we did go out and seek implicit bias training for our officers, and it was well received because the officers were learning something about themselves that they would not have otherwise known.
WW: Being able to recognize that they had implicit biases gives them the opportunity to make sure that they don't let their implicit biases negatively affect how they do their jobs on a day-to-day basis. That, within itself, cuts down on the number of conflict that we end up having with people, and that, of course, is going to reduce the use of force that we may have to use from time to time.
LF: Thanks for sharing that Chief Weaver.
WW: You're welcome.
CM: I don't want to go too long here. I think we should probably wrap things up about now, although there's so much more that we could talk about. But Chief Jennings, I kind of want to give you the final word. In addition to maybe some of the things we've already talked about, in addition to training, accountability, those kinds of things, what do you see as the biggest opportunities to address issues with either legitimacy, the police community relationships, racial bias, or the use of force in policing, where do you see the biggest opportunities right now, whether it's in the nation or in Charlotte specifically?
JJ: I think our profession as a whole has a great opportunity right now to be accepting of change, to understand that our authority and power to police comes from our citizens, and the citizens should have a right in the say in how we police them. If we want to really build credibility, and transparency and honesty within our community right now, we have to show them and demonstrate that we are listening, and that we're willing to make some of those tough changes to what we do, and our policies and how we do them.
JJ: If we can show that, and the community also knows that we're human beings. We make mistakes. It's what we do as a result of those mistakes that I think is going to demonstrate that we're committed to the cause here. Everybody's heard of the 8 Can't Wait campaign. I just did a press conference this morning that CMPD is out of the top 100 populated cities in the country, there's only 10 that have met all eight objectives, and Charlotte is now one of them.
JJ: I'm very proud of that, and the hard work, and Chief Weaver can tell you, that's not an easy task when you start looking at policy changes, and trying to get the wording correct, and in agreeance, everyone agrees on how we're going to put forth a policy. So, we've done some great work to show the community that we're listening, and we're moving forward. I think that's our opportunity.
CM: That's great. I want to thank you guys all again for being here before we wrap things up. I didn't know if you guys had any questions for each other, or if anything else that you want to add before we wrap up.
CM: Thank you all again. Before I go, Philip, I don't know if you can jump on here. Is there anything else that you want to address before we wrap up the event?
Dr. Phillip Ardoin: That's it. I just want to say think you to Chief Jennings, Chief Wilson and Dr. Fridell. It's been great. This is a wonderful opportunity. There's some horrible things with COVID-19 and having to go to Zoom, but Dr. Holcomb and I were just chatting how the opportunities it's provided us to bring in such great speakers and individuals from around the state and around the country to talk to our students and our community is just wonderful. So thank you all. Appreciate it.
WW: Thank you. Listen we ...
WW: We've got a big game Saturday with Marshall. I remember those days of playing Marshall, so at 3:30 p.m. I'm going to be watching.
CM: All right.
WW: Go App State.
JJ: Go App State.
CM: All right, I'm going to go ahead and officially close the meeting. So thanks again, everyone. I really appreciate it, and I want to appreciate the attendees that we had in the audience here today. We'll be sharing this recording of this webinar with other students in the days to come. Thank you again, and I wish you all the best.
LF: Thank you, Chris.
WW: Thank you.
JJ: Thank you.
App State Examines and Celebrates the United States Constitution
We the people...
Two hundred and thirty-three years ago, the 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia's Independence Hall to sign the United States Constitution. Today, educational institutions across the country recognize this event on and around Sept. 17 with educational events and celebrations.
Signed into law in 2004, Constitution and Citizenship Day commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, and also recognizes “all who, by coming of age or naturalization, have become citizens.” Government officials are encouraged to display the flag of the United States on government buildings to commemorate Constitution and Citizenship Day, and the people of the United States are invited to observe the day “in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies.”
In 2005, Congress determined that educational institutions that receive federal funds for a given year must hold an educational program on the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17 of that year for the students they serve.
Faculty, staff and students at Appalachian have taken this opportunity to plan several events during the week of Sept. 17 to engage our campus community in discussions about the U.S. Constitution, its history and its meaning in today’s world.
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.