Jun 162009
 
Authors: Lauren Leete

One of the final three candidates for CSU chief of police, Jerry Schiager, voiced a need Thursday to develop a more positive relationship with students through a medium that appeals to them – the Internet.

In an open forum with the local and CSU communities in the Lory Student Center, he acknowledged that in light of the changing way students perceive officers, he hopes to increase communication and provide information about tickets and other legal matters to the student body.

“College students are never going to be happy with officers when they get a ticket. We need to talk to people in non-enforcement ways, bring information in a manner they like to receive them,” Schiager, commander of the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force, said. “Possibly (through) an opportunity with social networking like Facebook or an “Ask a cop Web page.”

He said his envisioned policing strategy would be on the “service-oriented side,” giving the example of picking up and giving a ride to someone who was drunk and walking on the street as opposed with an automatic ticket.

This does not mean than officers will neglect the law, however, just that the department would increase communication with the community.

With no previous chief of police experience, Schiager, a Fort Collins native and former CSUPD officer, realized the “great challenge” before him and commented on his ability to fulfill the role saying, “I can bring an outside perspective, that’s the strength I bring.”

Responding to Vice President of Student Affairs Blanch Hughes’ question on how he wants to grow at CSU, Schiager said, “I see a lot of opportunity for growth, a department with a lot of potential . I’d love to learn about.”

Explaining the difficulty of “not being able to move up” in the department, a CSUPD officer shared his thoughts of possibly expanding the opportunity for CSUPD to participate in more city policing. The CSUPD has jurisdiction on all CSU property but is authorized to enforce across several state counties.

Schiager replied, “It’s a challenge within a small department. (We can) move around and develop some of those skills, but I don’t think we should spread our resources out to the city. We need to be exceptionally good on campus . (and) focus on the issues of the people here.”

A representative of Student Diversity asked Schiager’s stance on the current campus weapons policy, which allows those people with permits to lawfully carry concealed weapons on campus.

“I know the university has plans to review the policy . right now they are following state law to allow it,” Schiager responded. “Bottom line, I could go either way on this.”

In February, concerned that the current wording in current student conduct policy leaves room for misinterpretation, the Faculty Council aimed to revamp its language in coming months to clarify a students’ right to carry a concealed weapon on campus with a permit.

CSU is one of 11 universities in the country that allows students to bring guns into the classroom, but the wording in the student conduct policy creates a sort of “grey area,” said Anne Hudgens, dean of students, in an interview with the Collegian in February.

Schiager said he aims to focus on the following:

/ Engage in different student groups to be supportive and develop trusting relationships

/ Emergency planning and crime prevention, especially sexual assault

/ Developing good strategies for police response, and

/ (Educating) on how to control risk, which would include developing an on-campus “buddy system.”

Students agreed with the idea of police officers reaching out to and engaging with the student body.

Kelsie Rivera, a junior wildlife biology major, said officers can reach out to students “if they did stuff in the plaza, like the little stands others have, and get to know students.” Additionally, she thought, “Overall, everything should be about safety, but they should also talk to people like they aren’t above them and follow the laws they set.”

Staff writer Lauren Leete can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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