MUPD’s crime prevention officers focus on proactive measures that educate the campus community and build trust
Story by: Sara Diedrich
Nearly everyone who studies or works at the University of Missouri has met at least one crime prevention officer with the MU Police Department.
These are the officers who share an overview of MUPD and the services it offers with new students during Summer Welcome. They deliver similar information during new employee orientation and provide dozens of presentations and training seminars each year to the campus community.
Anyone who has attended a Citizens Response to Active Threats (C.R.A.T.) class or a personal safety presentation has most likely met the crime prevention unit: Officer James Young, Officer Joan Haaf or Officer Jacob Clifford.
“The crime prevention unit is one of the most important units within our agency,” Chief Doug Schwandt said. “All of us in law enforcement should look at ourselves as ‘crime prevention officers’ and help to educate our community on the various crime prevention strategies and the over-arching philosophy of community policing.”
While all MUPD officers take a community policing approach to law enforcement, the crime prevention division focuses on proactive measures that provide education and training on community and personal safety, educational programming and training and property security. The unit’s efforts are supplemented by patrol officers who assist with programming in their assigned districts.
“So often in law enforcement, we’re interacting with people when they are experiencing a problem,” Young said. “As crime prevention officers, we also get to interact with members of the campus community when they’re not in the middle of a difficult issue.”
Lt. April Colbrecht, who coordinates the activities of the crime prevention division, said officers in this division work hard to build relationships with a wide variety of student groups, an effort that often pays off for everyone on campus.
“It’s important for students to have contact with our officers that aren’t enforcement-based,” she said. “That way, when they see something wrong on campus, they are comfortable coming forward and reporting it to us.
“Policing is a community effort,” she said. “We need people willing to tell when they see something that doesn’t look right on campus.”
MUPD crime prevention officers provided 132 programs and presentations to faculty, staff and students in 2017, and 97 in 2018. All events are provided free of charge.
Some of the programs and presentation provided by the crime prevention unit cover topics such as personal safety; sexual assault awareness, education and prevention; alcohol awareness; drug awareness; identity theft prevention and campus safety and emergency planning. Upon the request of a building coordinator, crime prevention officers also will provide a security survey of a building or office space and suggest changes to improve overall safety and security in and around the area.
Dean of Students Jeff Zeilenga said the role MUPD’s crime prevention officers play in building relationships with students is invaluable in keeping the campus secure and students safe.
“These officers provide a variety of training on campus safety and policies to promote a positive and educational environment,” he said. “Their work with student organizations helps set the tone for expectations on campus and has a positive ripple effect across campus.”