UW News

January 22, 2009

UWPD places officer in HUB for lunchtime outreach

UW News

Do you have questions about crime prevention or campus safety? Maybe about bike registration or how to secure your electronic equipment?

An officer of the UW Police is now on hand to help for two hours at lunchtime every day — from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. — at the HUB information desk, to answer such questions and more.

It’s all part of the UWPD’s ongoing effort at outreach and community service, said Ralph Robinson, UWPD assistant chief. The front desk location was chosen because it’s where there is the most foot traffic at the student center.

“Historically, the police have always been considered somewhat distant, in their cars and hard to connect with, if you will,” Robinson said, adding that the department is seeking to change that. “We’re always looking for ways to get more into the community, and this is just another way of being out in the community and being accessible.”

Being an everyday presence on campus is a challenge, he said, because the UWPD is headquartered down on Boat Street, where few students and staff happen to pass by. “Just based on where we are, we have to do some extra outreach. We are a huge campus — like a small city within a city” with a widely diverse population representing many needs.

Staffing factors in, too, Robinson said. “With lower staffing levels it’s a practicality that we can’t solve anything without working with the community.”

Robinson said an officer has been on that lunchtime duty since the start of January, and that people seem to appreciate it. From the feedback they’ve gotten so far, he said, “People seem to think it’s a good idea.”

Officer Tanesha Van Leuven offered smiles and help to those passing by the desk as she began her first HUB shift Friday. In the space of a few minutes she helped a couple people find their way and renewed acquaintance with a campus friend.

Robinson said different parts of the UWPD will cover the shift on different days, but the important thing is the everyday presence.

And it isn’t just public relations — the officer is there to take crime reports, too, if needed.

For more information about the UWPD and its programs, call 206-543-0507 or visit online at http://www.washington.edu/admin/police.