When Charli Goodman answered the phone last week she had no idea the opportunity of a lifetime would be waiting on the other end of the call.
A graduate of the U’s master’s program in Middle Eastern Studies and a sergeant with the Salt Lake City Police Department Patrol Division, Goodman was informed she was one of three Utah police officers being considered to meet with President Barack Obama regarding 21st century policing strategies.
At first, Goodman said she was skeptical about the offer when she was asked for her social security number over the phone.
“I thought maybe I was scammed, so I checked my credit card bill to be sure,” Goodman said. “I was really surprised, but really honored.”
Goodman found out Sunday, Feb. 24 she had been selected to represent Utah and the Salt Lake Police Department in Washington on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Only six officers were chosen from across the country. Goodman was assigned to meet with the group and the president to discuss policies that would build public trust and reduce crime. The meeting reviewed ways to cultivate a positive, collaborative relationship between law enforcement and the communities officers protect.
In the meeting, Goodman voiced her thoughts on the issue of public relationship with the police and Salt Lake City Police Department’s efforts to address it.
“Officers, sergeants and lieutenants are equipped with body cameras. Our department has released body cam footage of some of the recent shootings and that evidence has made a lot of difference in showing why the officers took the actions that they did,” Goodman said. “Body cameras are not the be all, end all, however. There are still a lot of things that need to be worked out.”
Goodman said the most memorable part of the experience was the opportunity to share Salt Lake City’s successes with the Chief of the Executive Branch. She said that when the president shook her hand he gave her a President’s Challenge Coin.
Whitney Kraatz, a freshman in biology, thought it was amazing so many U graduates have appeared on the national scene on critical issues.
“There has been a lot of negative images in the news recently about police brutality,” Kraatz said. “It is nice to hear the other side of the story and see that the police, especially here in Salt Lake, are working toward finding solutions to the problems.”
Goodman said that at the end of the meeting, she felt confident the president received good, honest information to use in his decision making.
“Officers want the public to know we are reactionary and we are peace keepers,” Goodman said. “I am confident that if we continue to have these much needed conversations, that the relationship between the public and police will improve and will be even stronger than it was before.”