Officers aim to educate

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By Jacqueline Schaefer

Students come to college to receive an education. The UW-W campus police department’s goal is to ensure this education includes more than just reading and memorizing facts.

The police department aims to provide another dimension of students’ education and teach life skills.

“I think education is especially important,” Officer Kelsey Kersten said. “Campus policing here at Whitewater is different because we base our enforcement off of education, which is why we do so much programming.”

In order to reach its goal of education, the campus police put on many programs throughout the year. One of the most well-known programs is Officer Mike Sacco’s presentations for New Student Seminar classes. Sacco’s goal is to help inform students to help get them ahead in life.

“I hope that by talking to classes I can give students an edge,” Sacco said. “Making decisions and going to parties are all parts of growing up, and I want to make sure that you guys are doing it responsibly.”

Other programs from the police department include the Alcohol Diversion Program, Coffee with the Cops, Donuts with the Cops, drug aversion programs, Drunken Olympics, Drunken Bag Toss, the Bait Bike Program, CPR certification and self-defense programs, as well as having a booth at the Wellness and Involvement fairs.

“We do all these programs, we do all these initiatives, and they’re not well attended,” Officer Steve Hanekamp said. “I would like students to take in what we have to say, and use it in whatever way they decide to use it and know that we’re here to help.”

Professors often ask Sacco to speak to their classes because they know their students will learn from the presentation.

“I asked Sacco to come talk because I think he has good information and because the presentation gives students a point person they can talk to if they have a problem,” Professor of Criminal Justice Melissa Deller said.

From Sacco’s presentations, some students may come to realize how important the police are for safety.

“I think the presentation showed how much the UW facilities care about making everyone feel safe, and it makes me feel safer that the police are armed because I know they can help immediately,” freshman Kat Fisher.

For other students, the programs make the officers less scary.

“I think the UW campus police here are awesome, and they’re really here to help us,” junior Alli Rosenow said. “I wish more students knew they were a resource, instead of just looking at them as officers.”

The officers also hope students view them as a resource and know they’re approachable people.

“My goal is to make the police department more approachable to students,” Kersten said. “I want to break down those barriers so they don’t hesitate to call us.”

Hanekamp shares Kersten’s views and recognizes that department’s job is to help students.

“It’s important for students to know that the police department isn’t out to get you guys; we’re here to educate and help you learn from your experiences,” Hanekamp said. “Yes, we have a job to do, but that’s not what we ultimately like to do. We like to educate and steer people in a better direction.”