In an effort to become more connected with students this year, the Emerson College Police Department will launch a community-liaison officer program and offer department-run classes, said Chief of Police Robert Smith.
This move came after a meeting with several Student Government Association representatives last semester. During the talk, SGA officers mentioned that some students feel uncomfortable coming to Emerson police officers with a problem, said Smith.
“We want to work on building more trust,” said Smith. “If they need help or there’s a problem students are trying to overcome, we want to be a resource.”
Smith said he hopes “Adopt a Cop” will help with this. The program will designate an ECPD officer to each dorm and some student organizations. Throughout the year, officers will make presentations about different safety issues to campus residents and student organizations, and hopefully build a rapport with those students, said Smith.
“The goal is to have every student know one officer by first name by the end of the year,” he said.
Organizations interested in an officer-liaison should request one with Sergeant Israel Rivera, the program’s coordinator, said Smith. Rivera will select officers, as resources allow, and notify residents and organization members in the next few weeks, according to Smith.
Julianna Buck, a junior marketing communication major, said she thinks this will be beneficial.
“[The officers] really do care about the students, and just the fact that they’re considering starting this sort of thing should give all Emerson students a sense of security,” she said. “They are in good hands.”
The department will also offer CPR classes upon request. Once 10 students sign up for the training, the class will be scheduled.
“This is an important skill for students to have,” said Smith, on why the department added the course. Students will not pay for the training, just the certification card from the Red Cross, which costs $19.
Paulina Pascual, a junior visual and media arts major, said she thinks students should take advantage of this opportunity.
“The CPR classes I’ve taken are good for getting a general understanding of being a first responder in the case of an emergency,” she said.
Rape Aggression Defense System courses will continue to be available, as they have been for the past few semesters, but for the first time this fall, female students can take the class with a female officer. The RADS courses provide a basic self-defense education to attendees.
Smith said that at the end of last semester, some female students reported feeling uncomfortable taking the class with a man, so ECPD officer Jamila Beasley trained in the techniques over the summer.
Some students seemed pleased with the efforts and hoped to continue building a positive relationship with the department.
“There is definitely an unspoken trust between officers and students,” said Pascual. “But the opportunity to build up that trust and develop a better relationship would benefit everyone.”