By Suzie Ziegler
LANCASTER, Pa. — In 2020, after a summer time of civil unrest, Franklin & Marshall Faculty introduced that its campus cops can be getting a “softer look.” Directors hoped that the officers’ new uniforms would enhance scholar relations, faculty directors mentioned.
“I wished to soften the look of our DPS officers as a means of trying much less militaristic,” William McHale, affiliate vp for public security, mentioned in a press launch. “I need our officers to look extra approachable, so our neighborhood is extra comfy when interacting with DPS officers.”
As a substitute of conventional police uniforms, officers now put on khakis and polo shirts. Campus police additionally eliminated the sunshine bars from squad automobiles.
Franklin & Marshall isn’t the primary establishment to have this concept, reported Inside Greater Ed. In 2017, Central Washington College modified its campus police uniforms to cargo pants and polo shirts and changed steel badges with a sewn-on model. CWU cruisers are at present within the strategy of being repainted within the faculty’s colours.
CWU Police Chief Jason Berthon-Koch mentioned the adjustments got here from conversations with college students.
“They’d some feedback and a few considerations concerning the traditional-looking police uniform inflicting boundaries for some underrepresented college students to report and really feel protected,” Berthon-Koch advised Inside Greater Ed. “So, with that, we made the choice to take heed to our neighborhood but additionally to respect the officer’s means to do their job.”
McHale says officers nonetheless have all of the instruments they should do their job. For instance, officers nonetheless put on ballistic vests, however now the vests mix in with their uniform higher, in accordance with the report.
“Officers are properly protected, however they don’t appear like they only crawled out of a fight zone,” McHale mentioned.
Berthon-Koch acknowledges that new uniforms will not be a quick-fix for constructing student-police relationships.
“Altering the uniform isn’t going to create instantaneous neighborhood belief,” Berthon-Koch mentioned. “That’s a step that I believe lots of people want to grasp, particularly in management positions. We, as chiefs, can speak about neighborhood policing, we will philosophically debate it, however till you really stroll the stroll, you don’t make a change.”
McHale careworn the significance of listening to the campus neighborhood.
“In at this time’s setting, I believe we’d like to have the ability to be progressive, take heed to our constituents and abide by their needs if it’s doable,” McHale mentioned. “And I believe it’s a win-win on this case.”