A majority of the UC Davis Police Department and several officers from the Davis Police Department will be on the MU Patio today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Rather than reacting to a student protest, however, the officers will be trying to make friendly conversation.
The police have partnered with the ASUCD Police Student Relations Committee to host the first Student Police Relations Event today. In addition to the officers on hand, the event will feature police cars, motorcycles, the diggler – a motorized scooter – and other police equipment.
“[The event] gives students a chance to become familiar with the equipment and put a name to the officers,” said Kara Rodenhizer, chair of the committee. “Most students only encounter police when they’re being cited, so this is kind of trying to bridge the gap.”
Organizers hope the event will allow students to get to know local police officers on a more personal level in an informal atmosphere.
“The police want to have a better line of communication with the students so that [students] feel more comfortable talking to police officers,” Rodenhizer said, adding that some officers will attend the event in plain clothes in order to seem less intimidating.
“The police are all nervous, too,” she said. “They think all the students hate them. Nobody should feel apprehensive. It’s a meet and greet kind of thing, students can ask any question in an off-the-record sense.”
In addition to talking to police officers and seeing law enforcement equipment up close, students will have the opportunity to try on drunk goggles and play hopscotch. Winners will receive raffle tickets, which could win them one of several prizes at the end of the event.
“Hopefully students will stop by and meet us and see the equipment,” said UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza. “Our hope is that we can break down some of those walls. It’s a friendly gesture and we’re just trying to be involved.”
The event comes soon after the Mar. 4 protests, in which hundreds of UC Davis students pulled fire alarms all over campus and blocked intersections throughout Davis, but organizers have been planning for more than a year.
“Last year the event was scheduled to take place during the same time as culture week and people protested,” Rodenhizer said. “They felt it would be disrespectful and offend their communities.”
The committee has hosted meetings this year in advance of the event so that concerned parties could voice concerns beforehand. Rodenhizer said she doesn’t anticipate any kind of negative reaction to the event, noting the meetings were low in attendance and the committee has taken steps to avoid the same scheduling conflicts as last year.
“It’s not during culture week,” she said. “This shouldn’t be an event where anyone gets offended.”
ASUCD President Jack Zwald encouraged students to stop by and attend the event.
“It will be a great time for law enforcement and students to communicate,” he said. “While recent events may be more fresh in our minds, it’s always important to have a positive relationship between students and law enforcement.”
RICHARD PROCTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.