When walking around non-residential buildings this year, you might be seeing more officers from the University Police Department.
After receiving several requests, UPD has added officers to non-residential buildings this year. This change is an addition to the officer liaison program in residence halls, which was started last year.
The goal of both programs is for the police department to get more involved with the community and for students to feel more comfortable with university officers.
“With an officer being in that building every day for a short period of time, walking through, if you have a question, a concern, an activity that is going on or something like that that you want to include us with, or just have some general knowledge, you have personal one-on-one and you might be more inclined to ask questions and you’re more comfortable with them,” officer Brad Clark said.
Walking through campus streets and university buildings is nothing new for UPD officers. During each shift they are required to do at least 30 minutes of foot patrols, regardless of the weather conditions.
Officer Clark said it is has also been a great way for him to interact with students and get to know them.
“When you see a police officer driving in a car, you’re a lot less likely to approach them whereas when they are walking amongst you, there is no barrier, you can walk right up to them,” Clark said.
Both Sgt. Stafford and officer Clark hope that the new liaison program and other community policing programs will help break down some of the stigmas and stereotypes people have against the police.
“Because the police are someone that has to enforce laws, there is a stigmatism that they’re not approachable, they’re not personable, they’re not friendly because they are all business and they just want to take people to jail,” Clark said. “This breaks down that barrier to where they realize we are normal people.”
Sgt. Stafford said they are already seeing success with the program and the events the department has already thrown this semester.
“That’s the goal is to mingle and get students more comfortable with us, faculty and staff more comfortable with us so they come to us,” Sgt. Scott Stafford said.
Some students have already had the opportunity to interact with UPD officers in their respective buildings.
“It allows students to get to see UPD and even get to know them,” De Shockney, a junior art education major said. “I love talking to UPD because they're nice and genuinely care about students.”
Mason Zolman, a sophomore sports administration major, said he likes the program because it enhances his safety awareness.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing overall,” Zolman said. “I don't really feel at risk without them there, but with them there, it does bring me an extra sense of security and safety.”