Campus Police seek

to improve relations

There has been a great deal written within The Signal’s pages this fall about the relationship between members of the College community and the office of Campus Police Services.

By nature, the interaction between those charged with enforcing laws and those who, even inadvertently, transgress them is often less than pleasant.

There are some, however, who feel that this relationship has become strained and is causing an erosion of our campus’ sense of community.

I believe we must acknowledge this perceived rift and address it so as to ensure it is not a reflection of reality.

Campus Police has a responsibility to protect and serve our campus. They are obligated to enforce the laws of our state, but they are also members of our community, not adversaries.

At question is not whether to ignore or let pass certain viola ions. Our police simply cannot do so without compromising safety and security.

The real question is, “How can Campus Police perform their duties and be considered allies by those whom they serve?”

I believe at least part of the answer is a combination of improved communication and increased familiarity.

Toward that end, we have begun several new initiatives in recent months that will, hopefully, transform the dynamic between students, faculty, staff and police into more of a partnership.

In addition, Sgt. Jim Lopez has agreed to assume a key role in guiding this effort as the office of Campus Police Services’ new lieutenant.

Other steps have already been taken. Campus Police Services is now meeting monthly with a Student Government Association representative to discuss issues and exchange information.

They also recently met with the Residence Hall Association and participated in a Students’ Rights Forum sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union chapter at the College.

A new program assigns Campus Police officers to specific residential facilities in order to strengthen bonds with the students living in those particular communities.

Additionally, we are working more collaboratively with Ewing Township and local residents while providing training and information sessions for off-campus, first-year and foreign students as well as parents.

It is important to the overall welfare of our community for Campus Police to be a welcomed and respected presence. An ad-hoc committee of faculty, staff and students is presently reviewing current practices and will provide feedback later this academic year.

In the interim, we are endeavoring to address negative perceptions and improve communication. I encourage anyone willing to advance this effort by sharing their comments or concerns directly with the office of Campus Police Services or, at the very least, your representatives on the Student Government Association, Faculty Senate or Staff Senate. Issues cannot be addressed unless we are aware of their existence.

Curt Heuring,

VP for Facilities Management, Construction and Campus Safety