Students Get to Know Cops over Coffee
By Tamonda Griffiths, Southern News
Original article HERE
According to Chief of University Police, Joseph Dooley, the university police having been hosting Coffee with a Cop for three years.
“It’s a national program,” said Dooley. “We always try to do it on Coffee with a Cop Day for the national program, however we didn’t have enough people that day.”
National Coffee with a Cop Day, which started in 2016, takes place on the first Wednesday in October. This year the university held the event on Tuesday, Oct. 22. University Police patrol officer, Abbey Pantani, who is the coordinator for the event said the purpose of CWAC Day was to give back to the community.
“There’s no agenda behind it,” said Pantani. “We want students on campus to see us in a different light.”
Pantani said she wanted students to see officers as human beings who know how to have fun from time to time and eventually become more comfortable with speaking to them. Director of the Office of Student Conduct & Civic Responsibility, Chris Piscitelli said his office works “extremely close” with campus police, acting as an intermediary between students and police.
“While I find our police to be extremely approachable, and I think most students feel that way,” said Piscitelli, “it would be hard for all students just to naturally think that police are approachable.”
According to Piscitelli, based on conversations he has had with students over time, he said students may associate a previous bad experience they have had with law enforcement in their hometowns onto all police officers and now see them as unapproachable.
“If we’re not safe, you can’t learn,” said Piscitelli.
Member of Beta Mu Sigma fraternity, Zachary Nailon, a junior and said he and members and his fraternity do several events in collaboration with University Police such as campus watch. Having a simple cup of coffee with a police officer, Nailon said, may help students feel better about their relationship and understanding with law enforcement.
“I think it’s very important to have that connection with our police, because it’s just about transparency,” said Nailon.
With the help of Chartwells, University Police were able to provide doughnuts and coffee to students as they passed by on their way to and from classes. University Police patrol officer, Sergio Nunez, said was present at the event to provide moral support to his fellow officers and have general conversation with students.
“We’re here to let our students know we’re here for them,” said Nunez.
As a bike patrol officer and “The Mayor” of the university, Nunez said he knows and talks to almost everyone on campus and has no concerns regarding campus police’s relationship with students.
Dooley said it is important for people in the campus community to have the opportunity to ask questions and interact with officers, and remember they are parents and were once children and students too.
“If we do our job and there’s public trust and we do events like this and people feel comfortable talking to us,” said Dooley, “the community works hard to keep the campus safe. It’s not just about us, it’s about everybody communicating.”