Police officers aim to connect with students

NKU’s police force is making an effort to be more engaged in campus life. While the force’s main priority is to keep students safe, they are now working to connect with the campus community and make students feel more comfortable around them.

When University Police Chief Jason Willis came to NKU, he listened as people described their experience with campus police.

“I got a lot of feedback from the community about the relationship they had with the police department,” he said. “Based on that feedback, I knew what direction this police department needed to go in.”

From those comments, Willis determined that the NKU police needed to be more visible and engaged on campus for two reasons: to make their presence less formidable and to encourage people to come to police with any concerns.

“We’re here for the students and because of the students,” he said. “By being visible and accessible, I would be able to address some of the concerns they had.”

In order to make police presence more visible, Willis determined that officers should be out on campus, patrolling and directing traffic.

But Willis also wants police to be among the students in social areas, such as the Student Union or the library, walking around, talking with students, and being a friendly face. He commented that many times, students see a police officer and they think there is a problem.

“[The situation] might concern [the students],” freshman Rachel Boylson said. “[They may ask], why are they here, what’s going on?”

“If [students] see an officer, it’s not because there’s a problem, it’s because the officer is investing in them,” said Director of University Housing Arnie Slaughter.

Willis said he wants students to get used to having a police presence on campus and to not feel threatened by them.

“We’re not here to get people in trouble. We’re here to provide a safe environment,” he said. “It really doesn’t take any extra policing skill for this to happen. A lot of times, all it takes is to be a friendly face…not sitting in the back of the parking lot with the windows rolled up; it’s being out and approachable.”

Anthony Williams, an NKU police officer, said, “I openly engage [with the]…students.”
Willis’ second goal was making officers more accessible to students and staff so that people would come to the police with any concerns they have.

“I would like for students to not be afraid to call the police or to talk to us about things that have happened to them,” Willis said.

Boylson said that having the officers around would make her more comfortable.

Officers will be accessible to students in the residential areas as well as on campus.

According to Williams, he patrols Kentucky and Commowealth halls, talking to students and making sure he’s visible to them.

Overall, Chief Willis wants students to be comfortable with the police force.

“We’re here to provide a service, and we want students to look at us that way,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re here for the success of the students.”