ISU Police reaches 48,000 with outreach events in 2017

ISU Police outreach overview

Tyrus Pavicich

Editor’s note: This story is part of a partnership publication between the Iowa State University Department of Public Safety and the Iowa State Daily to provide perspective about the status of safety on campus and the initiatives the department worked on in 2017. 

Iowa State’s campus police officers are dead-set on increasing safety in any way they can.

Naturally, this means stopping crime and providing resources to students — but donuts might be their best weapon.

By hosting frequent and creative outreach efforts, such as the “Donut Disrespect” campaign and their Coffee with a Cop breakfast events, ISU police are playing the long game of preventing campus crime by bringing the student body together. 

With these outreach events and more, the ISU police reached more than 48,000 people last year.

In addition to increasing community cohesion, Officer Anthony Greiter, who is in charge of outreach for the department, wants to connect students to the campus police department so they feel comfortable communicating with officers.

“We’ve done a lot of work to humanize our police department and show the community that we’re approachable, that we’re here to help,” Greiter said. “Donut Disrespect has really encouraged people to come forward and talk to us a little bit more, even if it’s about the goofiest little things.”

This idea isn’t without precedent. An article published in the Harvard Law Review in 2016 noted a clear connection between better, more thoughtful policing and the public’s trust in their local forces. 

This is particularly important after recent events nationwide have, in many areas, widened the rift between police and the communities that they protect. 

Greiter believes that outreach efforts have been successful in preventing any kind of divide in Ames, where he noted that students will regularly approach officers asking for stickers or a photo op. 

But even though he’s proud of what the ISU police has accomplished in strengthening community bonds, Greiter said the most important work it has done is provide training to citizens in the form of sexual assault programming and violent incident response training.

“Those two are phenomenal,” Greiter said. “You can see an immediate impact in people’s lives because we’re providing life-changing and life-altering information in a positive, light-hearted way.”

In 2017, the ISU police scheduled 426 outreach events, ranging from donut giveaways to presentations on sexual assault. 

With all of the active outreach programs it does, however, the university police force still focuses heavily on positive everyday communication with students in order to build trust and positive feelings. “Truly, the day-to-day interactions are what I live for,” Greiter said. “The majority of our interactions with people are happy, they’re positive, they’re fun, and it’s a department-wide effort to make that happen.”

Greiter encourages students to follow social media to see upcoming Iowa State police-affiliated events, such as campus conversations and presentations.