UNCW ‘Coffee With a Cop’ bridges communication with students

By Bill Murray, WECT
Original article HERE

UNCW Police officers offered themselves up to students for a peak behind the badge during “Coffee with a Cop.”   It’s a way to make officers feel more approachable to students and let those students have more of an appreciation for what they do.

“We’re just trying to present the police department as a partner on campus,” said Captain Todd Curry with UNCW Police Department. “We don’t want to be seen as the imposing police.”

Kara Mariotti’s on the beat at UNCW. She’s been a police officer in other North Carolina towns, but likes the campus environment.

“It allows you be more proactive. It allows me to serve.  That motto says ‘serve and protect.’  I think sometimes we’re too focused on the protect part,” Mariotti said.

Mariotti says that connection with students makes a difference.  A chance to serve by taking time and forming relationships.

“There was one student, who had a drug problem and OD’d in class,” Mariotti began. “I was able to say `hey’ we need to spend a little extra time.  I actually saw that person, last night, while I was grocery shopping. He’s doing great, doing well, he thanked me. He’s still here today. He’s getting an education getting the chance to better himself.”

You may not realize it, but UNCW has a deep rooted connection with vets.  When the college opened in ’47, 75 percent of its students were veterans.

Thursday’s get together, in the student military affairs office, was a perfect fit.

“A variety of our officers live, here, in Wilmington,” said Bill Kawczynski, UNCW’s Military Affairs Director. “They may have served in the military, but it’s our chance to let them come in and interact with students who come from all over the place.”

Mariotti has been a cop on the “outside.” She likes this way better. She says it’s about being pro-active rather than reactive.

“If I help one student, that means I’ve done my job,” Mariotti said. “ If I can make a difference in one person’s life, no matter how little it is, then I’ve done the job I’ve signed up for.”