Salinas Police Department Visit

Last week, we visited the Salinas Police Department. Salinas is approximately 30 minutes away from Monterey and has significant problems regarding gang violence. The city’s overall violent crime is higher than California’s average. Chief of Police, Mr. Kelly McMillin, showed us around the police station, explained police training and operations. He also answered some of our questions regarding legitimacy, community involvement, and the current challenges that police officers face in the 21st century.



I must say that this is one of my favorite sessions in the Summer Peacebuilding Program. Aside from the fact that I felt like a cool law student visiting a police department for the first time,  I learned plenty of information from our visit and obtained a clearer understanding of the complexity of the police’s role in contemporary society. This was my first experience inside a police department. Chief officer McMillin told us about his background and what led him to his career as a police officer. Then, he showed us around the police office and clearly explained the different aspects of police operations. For me, it was such a great experience to see this aspect of the state first-hand. As scholars of political science, we often have a very narrow view of state operations. We are often stuck in the “Ivory tower.” We talk about the importance of policing to project state legitimacy and eventually strengthen the justice system to promote peace and order. Without the aid of the police, the world would be inherently anarchic and anarchy is undesirable. When we talk about these concepts, we simplify them. However, visiting the police department opened my eyes to the complexity of policing.


What I learned from the visit was that being a police officer is extremely demanding. Their job as protectors of society and the law affects their personal lives in many ways. Everyday their lives are in danger and they are always placed in situations of unrelenting pressure. However, they must act upon these societal standards. I was trying to find solutions for the problems of the Salinas police department. However, the problem was utterly complex. Nevertheless, the visit was educational to me. I will keep in mind the Salinas police department throughout this program and maybe at the end, I might have a solution.