Despite the rift that has grown between the police force and the public, as seen in the media, SUNY New Paltz’s University Police Department (UPD) has developed a way to build a bridge between citizen and law enforcement: the Campus Observation Police (COP) reward program.
Making room for open dialogue and lessening any disconnect that takes place between UPD and the general population, this program aims to establish a strong communicative relationship between the two, but provide rewards for those who are observed performing good deeds.
The program, coming directly from the creative genius of Officer Lilah Carlaw, will proceed as follows: community members on campus who are seen acting in good character may be stopped by the volunteering officers and be rewarded for their good natured behavior.
The only thing they ask? Talk to them. Ask them about their day, just make conversation— in a day and age where communication is majorly based off of technology. A simple “hey, how are you” goes a long way, and being courteous might just lead to receiving a coupon to a local establishment.
As of right now, the COP Rewards Program is intended to remain implemented until the reward coupons have all been distributed, but Officer Lilah Carlaw voiced her hopes that “it will continue in Fall 2017.”
While Carlaw admits that she hasn’t necessarily witnessed any negative interactions between students and UPD, she feels that “students question [their] presence and there is a general atmosphere that [they] are not necessary.”
Carlaw explained that her idea was inspired by the mass negative image that has been painted in the media as of late. Whether it be expressed in social media, newspapers, magazines, TV shows, police officers everywhere are taking a hit and Carlaw thought this might be the perfect solution in order to show that a police officer’s first duty is to protect and serve. After seeing a few similar programs being put in place, Carlaw thought that SUNY New Paltz could certainly benefit from opening “positive communication between the police department and the community.”
With her idea, Carlaw hit the ground running and began asking for help to make her dream possible. Due to the generous donations from Reno’s Pizza, New Paltz Bagel Cafe, Delish and Campus Auxiliary Services, Carlaw was granted the means necessary for putting the COP Reward Program in place.
Carlaw is not the only law enforcement officer in the area interested in establishing a friendly rapport amongst citizens and police. New Paltz Chief of Police, Joseph Snyder is also actively working towards creating harmony and looks forward to “seeing how this program works out with SUNY PD.”
Budgetary issues have prevented such a program from materializing in town. Despite this, Snyder has made a valiant effort in remaining a friendly face for town member in order to assure the public that regardless of what has been aired in the media, police officers are people too.
Snyder’s attempts at doing just this are very similar in what Carlaw has planned for the COP Reward Program: the New Paltz Police Department is known for handing out stuffed animals to children in town who openly make dialogue with the officers as well as meeting with students and patrons at events like “Coffee with a Cop.” Snyder sees the COP Reward Program as essential to “continue looking for positive interactions with the community and visitors.”
For more information regarding the program, PO Lilah Carlaw can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, Chief Joseph Snyder at email@example.com and UPD Chief David Dugatkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.