Pew research indicates public-police disconnect

IU Police Department full-time officer Hayley Ciosek gently taps her fingers on the police computer stationed inside the car in rhythm with whatever tune the 105.1 country station is playing.

The reflection of the clouds quickly passes along the windshield of the IUPD sedan as Ciosek cruises down State Road 46 on a Wednesday afternoon.

She looks out over the steering wheel and mutters under her breath about how the thunderstorms look like they might start back up again before softly humming a Luke Bryan song.

Ciosek has almost reached a year on the job as a full-time officer for IUPD. Although the 23-year-old officer still refers to herself as a “newbie,” she also says she “knows her shit.”

When Pew Research Center asked the public in January if it understood the challenges police faced on the job, 38 percent said they did very well.

An additional 45 percent of the public voted for a more modest somewhat well.

This compares to the 40 percent of police officers who said the public doesn’t understand well at all and an additional 46 percent who said the public didn’t understand very well.

Ciosek said she tends to agree with the police opinion in this poll.

“I think a lot of people underestimate what we do,” Ciosek said.

As an IU grad, Ciosek completed her degree and completed a major in both psychology and criminal justice. She went through the IU cadet program and the police academy, did her part-time officer work and worked her way up to the full-time officer status she has now.

Ciosek said she likes to talk and joke at the station.Sgt. Shannon Ramey said her demeanor brightens their meetings at work.

“She’s the glue that holds us together in roll call,” Ramey said with a smile.

Ciosek said it is this kind of attitude she tries to keep when doing her work out in the field. Ultimately, she said her goal is to have good interactions with people when doing her job.

However, this is not without its challenges.

She said she has seen some pretty intense situations at work.

From having an angry, bleeding man spit in her face to a man screaming that she doesn’t know how to “do her fucking job” when patrolling traffic, Ciosek said the job keeps officiers on their toes.

Ciosek said she thinks there are a lot of misconceptions, one of the biggest being what people assume police officiers’ motives are.

“I think the biggest misconception is that we’re out to get everyone all the time,” Ciosek said. “I’m just here to enforce the law, but a lot of people think we’re this evil force.”

Sometimes just walking through the Indiana Memorial Union, Ciosek said she will smile and say hi to people and receive unsure, skeptical responses.

“It’s discouraging when everyone thinks I’m there for a bad reason when really, I just want to talk,” Ciosek said. “I love to talk.”

While not everyone will understand the work they do, Ciosek said that’s OK because that’s her job.

“It’s our job to protect people,” Ciosek said. “I don’t expect them to know what we do every day. It’s our job.”

But there is a balance to police work. Ciosek said she has had people stop to tell her they value her service. Some even offer to buy her a coffee at Starbucks.

As her night shift continues, even the small things make her smile. While stopping at a crosswalk outside Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, a woman blows Ciosek a kiss for letting her cross the street.

“Awh, she’s nice, okay, I like her,” Ciosek said, waving and smiling back.

At the end of the day, the people are what make the job worth it, she said.

“I’m always laughing at work,” Ciosek said. “As long as I’ve got that, I’m game.”

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