The University of New Mexico hosted Coffee with a Cop on Wednesday in the plaza outside of Dane Smith Hall. Standing next to tables filled with Flying Star coffee and boxes of cookies were members of the UNM Police Department, looking to interact with any student wanting to talk.
As a part of the UNM Campus Safety Week, Coffee with a Cop is supposed to encourage both interaction with members of the campus police force as well as to spread information about various security concerns on campus. On the table were several sheets of paper promoting UNMPD’s social media accounts in addition to a raffle for a bike lock and steering wheel bar.
Detective with the UNMPD and co-director of the Campus Safety Council, Trish Young sees Coffee with a Cop as part of an effort to communicate with the larger community, she said.
“This is just one way of going out in public and seeing us and being able to talk to us. We want to do more of that,” Young said.
According to Young, a recent increase in the number of officers employed by UNM gives the department more ability to work on campus.
“We are able to do more proactive things like bike patrol, more patrols on campus, and that is great,” she said.
Young said one way to work towards a more safe campus is through the Campus Safety Council. She said the council can listen to student and faculty worries and can plan fixes and make recommendations to UNM President, Garnet Stokes.
“The Campus Safety Council itself is made up of key people around campus that can make changes,” Young said.
The council can look at issues from different perspectives to find one that can work effectively. Even if it doesn’t seem like a problem the police department can fix, perhaps the environment can be improved, Young said.
As students walked to and from their classes many stopped at the tables to enjoy the coffee and get a chance to learn about campus security efforts.
Even though they thought it was good to see UNMPD out on campus, UNM students Dania Hijazi and Jaimasan Sutton were unsure how much student and police communication will be affected by short interactions.
“I don’t know if that will help. Maybe if you had a really long conversation with them where you can develop a trust,” Sutton said.
Near the Coffee with a Cop table were several UNM security workers, there to show support for security efforts and communication on campus. The supervisor for UNM security, Rosemary Melendrez, spoke about a security effort that UNM students can participate in: the Safety Walk.
The Safety Walk groups split up and cover areas of campus to “check the lights. If they need a new light, if we need an emergency phone there, they’ll put it there,” Melendez said.
A safety walk will take place for the first time on UNM North Campus on Thursday, Sept. 5, meeting at the Bistro at 8 p.m. UNM students are welcome to join.
Colin Peña is a Beat Reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @penyacolin