Officers create campus outreach events

UNA police officers patrol the university every day to keep students and faculty safe. However, this does not mean they want to seem threatening to people on campus.

“We want people to know that we’re around and we’re here for them,” said Canine Officer Greg Kirby. “We’re not people you need to be afraid of.”

Kirby and Sergeant Terry Parker created events to help campus officers develop a closer relationship with others on campus.

Ideas include ping pong games against officers, a Segway course and a spring kickball tournament.

Kirby said none of the events have set dates.   

In the past, the department hosted a flag football game and Coffee with a Cop, where students could have coffee and pastries with the officers.

Kirby said he and Parker can come up with events since they work shifts together.

“The idea’s always been there to do these things,” he said. “Now, it’s coming together.”

Sophomore Curtis Holt said the events can help students be more open to the department by helping them see the officers as no different from anyone else.

“You need to be able to trust your authorities, so that, in case you have a problem, you can go to them,” he said. “You don’t want to think that you’re going to get in trouble if you go to (them) or feel intimidated when you do it.”

Holt said the officers could consider hosting a festival.

Junior Meaghan Hardy said she thinks the police need to visit the Lions’ Den game room more often.

“A lot of different people go in and out of the game room,” she said. “You (could) play a game with them, get to know them or just hang out outside and strike up a conversation.”

The kickball tournament will be a fundraiser for a yet-to-be-decided local charity.

Kirby said he would like to see an all-cop team for the tournament, possibly with officers from the Florence Police Department.

The department also teamed up with the Florence Fire Department to host a fire safety event Oct. 24, where students and faculty got the chance to learn how to operate a fire extinguisher.

Parker, Kirby and Toby, the department’s bomb dog, have started greeting children at Kilby Laboratory School during mornings.

“The more acquainted they can get with the public, the better,” Hardy said. “A lot of people think of cops as bad people, where I was raised to respect them. They’re people too, so as long as you can develop a relationship with them, it would make a better reputation with the public, so they can see that they’re normal people, too.”

For more information or to suggest an event idea, contact Parker at [email protected] or Kirby at [email protected].