New SGA board implements initiatives to improve BUPD, students’ relationship

Student Government Association has created a BUPD Student Liasion Board to improve the student body and police department’s relationship. Collegian file photo. 

MORGAN SKERIES | STAFF REPORTER | mskeries@butler.edu

A new Student Government Associate board on campus is in the works to become a liaison between the Butler University Police Department and the student body.

Although the group does not have an official name right now, sophomore Cole Mackey said they go by the BUPD liaison committee.

Mackey, pharmacy major, is the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences senator within the Student Government Association. He was one of the members that volunteered to join the BUPD liaison committee when the organization was proposed to SGA senate.

Last semester around November tensions between the student body and BUPD were very high due to many issues, Mackey said.

“People were not as trusting of BUPD because of how they addressed some of the situations,” Mackey said. “I thought if we formed a committee in an orderly way, where we formed a respective relationship between BUPD and students, it would help lessen the miscommunication between both sides.”

Sophomore secondary education major Malin Peterson was another member in senate that stepped up to create the BUPD liaison committee.

Peterson said the need for the organization was prevalent after an officer pulled her aside following a “Coffee with a Cop” event. “Coffee with a Cop” is where students can discuss their concerns and opinions with the police officers in a comfortable setting. The officer told Peterson there was a dire need for a lesion between BUPD and the student body.

The senate started the committee at the beginning of February. Peterson said it started with her being passionate about the issue and getting members from senate to join.

Although the organization is still figuring out the direction it wants to go in, it already has three distinct goals that outline the purpose of the group and what they are trying to do.

The groups first goal is education for students and BUPD officers.

“We want students to be educated on their own rights,” Peterson said. “So that they know or don’t know what rights they have, so when they are in a situation with BUPD they know what to do. This includes education for BUPD as well, like programs on racial profile training or providing them with student feedback so they are educated on how students are feeling.”

The second goal of the group is programming, which includes free car rides called “Ride Alongs” from officers at any time of the day.

“Students can contact BUPD at any time and they will give you a ride,” Peterson said. “It’s a really great way to humanize them. They put this uniform on and it doesn’t change who they are, it’s just a uniform. They mean all the best and are making conscious efforts to repair mistakes.”

The third and final goal of the BUPD liaison committee is to have an accessible communications platform for students. “Coffee with a Cop” is one of the events that fall into this goal.

“We really want to create ways that students can take concerns and opinions and channel them directly to SGA or BUPD,” Peterson said. “To give students that voice to say, ‘I have this issue and didn’t like how it was handled’ is a  great way to start that conversation. Lots of times students don’t know how to take the next steps.”

SGA just had its second “Coffee with a Cop” and although it was helpful, they are still making strides, Mackey said.

“We’re trying to integrate time and use the Ride Alongs and push it out to campus. A lot of people on campus don’t recognize that BUPD does want to reach out to us and be as clear as possible and transparent with their actions,” Mackey said. “It’s comforting knowing that we’re making a positive relationship with BUPD.”

Mackey said it is remarkable how two blocks away from campus can feel very different than Butler’s campus and he thinks that directly correlates to the work BUPD does. Ultimately, Mackey believes creating a relationship with BUPD will only help students rather than hurt them.

Chief of Public Safety John Conley said he applauds Peterson and the rest of the committee for the hard work they have done.

“What the committee is doing is helping to provide the audience and platform that I’ve been trying to get all year with the ‘Coffee with a Cop,’” Conley said. “At the last ‘Coffee with a Cop’ I did, Malin got with us and thought of a different approach, an SGA approach that could help format it, so we could talk about some of the issues that are occuring.”

Conley said he hopes to see more officers involved in working with the BUPD liaison committee next semester, including late shift officers. Conley also stresses why creating this organization is so important.

“Last semester, the right information wasn’t getting out and the wrong information was getting told,” Conley said. “It leads to frustration on both sides. The committee is a good opportunity to get out the right information both ways.”

Ultimately, it is a matter of getting Butler students the right information which will lead to the resolution between miscommunication, Conley said.

Over the summer, Peterson is working directly with BUPD for initiatives for the upcoming fall semester.

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