Ellensburg’s CWU Campus Cops Adjust For Better Bond With Students
In the 1980's President Bush called for a "kinder, gentler nation". Then in the 90's, we were witness to the "softer side of Sears."
Now in 2022, another organization is being recognized for a successful "softer approach" to conducting business, and this one is just up the road from Yakima.
In Ellensburg, the Central Washington University Police Department was featured on the national website Inside Higher Ed on Friday, April 15, in an article called “Making Campus Police More Approachable.”
Cosmetics Can Help
The article talks about how CWU and other campus police departments have updated their uniforms and cars to appear less intimidating and to earn the trust of the students they serve.
CWU Police Chief Jason Berthon-Koch explained that his department is transitioning away from the traditional black-and-white cruisers to a “softer” appearance, such as the white, branded Tesla patrol car that was introduced to the force this winter.
SLow But Sure
Chief Berthon-Koch on patience and progress:
Changing the uniform is not going to create instant community trust...That’s a step that I think a lot of people need to understand, especially in leadership positions. We, as chiefs, can talk about community policing, we can philosophically debate it, but until you actually walk the walk, you don’t make a change.
Listen To The Client, The Adjust
Chief Berthon-Koch says his department has been undergoing changes since 2017 after listening to what students were saying about how they perceived the department.
Sometimes people in our underrepresented student groups have this image of the police, because they may have had a bad interaction somewhere else, and that police uniform might be a barrier for them to feel that you’re approachable, that you can come up and be spoken to, that you can have a conversation