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ECPD plans instructional courses for students

by Brittany Gervais / Beacon Staff • November 29, 2012

Chief of Police Robert Smith wants to create a better relationship with students through courses.
Chief of Police Robert Smith wants to create a better relationship with students through courses.

In an effort to increase community familiarity and educate students about an array of safety measures, Emerson College Police Department officers are working on programs and classes to be implemented early next year. 

Sgt. Scott Baisley said that resident assistants came to ECPD asking for instructional classes at the beginning of the semester. Baisley said he became certified to teach CPR and then presented the idea for a class to Chief Robert Smith. 

Because of the success of the CPR course hosted earlier this month, Smith and Baisley said they want to create other safety courses, such as an alcohol awareness program.

Ten students participated in the CPR class. Baisley said he was extremely happy with the response.

“It was very exciting to have such a wonderful turnout,” he said.

Both Bailey and Smith said they want to find a way to connect to students on a more personal level. 

Along with teaching, the classes are designed to establish relationships between students and police officers. Smith said he is a strong advocate of community policing, a method used by police officers to create trust by partnering with the people they serve.

“My goal is to implement such a philosophy to build stronger bonds with the entire community,” Smith said.

Baisley and Smith said they have many ideas to offer the college.

Smith said he would like to create an alcohol awareness program, where students could complete an obstacle course while wearing “alcohol goggles,” which would show what it really feels like to be inebriated.

Baisley suggested a liaison program, which would assign an officer to each floor of the residence halls. The officer would have a picture and contact information posted on their floor so that students can put a face to the officer’s name, said Baisley.

Smith and Baisley said they encourage students to come to them with ideas about classes. In February or March, ECPD will release a survey asking students what class they would be most interested in taking. The classes that will be available depend heavily on student desires. The survey will help gauge how many students are interested and provide a source for more ideas for future programs.

“On our survey, we’re going to ask the students, ‘When is the most convenient time for you?’ We need to find a time that works in between all the classes and projects,” Smith said. “We really need to get that survey out there.”

Smith said he believed students see campus police officers as unapproachable because there isn’t enough trust between officers and students. With the introduction of safety classes and a liaison program, Smith hopes that students will engage in more open conversations with the officers.

“I don’t want there to be this distance,” Smith said. “We want to work with you; we don’t want to police you.”

Baisley said he agreed.

Katelyn Gearan, a freshman journalism major, said that while she would feel all right going up to an ECPD officer with a question, the proposed classes would help her feel more comfortable.

“I don’t think it would be uncomfortable asking them a question, but having the classes would give a more communal feel to them,” she said.

Jenni Leahy, a freshman journalism major, said that it might be difficult to organize safety classes around students’ hectic schedules.

“Emerson students are so busy, I don’t know if they would have a good turnout,” she said. “I think it’s good what they’re doing, but it might not work.”

Smith agreed that scheduling is one of the biggest issues when it comes to creating these programs. He said the department wishes to work with students to give them what they need. 

“These classes cost money,” Smith said, “but if the students are interested, we will try anything within our resources.”