CWU police department has a new look

Andrew Ulstad, Reporter

The CWU police department has made national headlines with their approachability initiative, described as one of the first departments to make such a change. Since 2017, this initiative aims to break down barriers between students and campus police. The issue was originally raised by ASCWU board members. 

“[It was a testament] to the working relationship we had with student government at that time,” According to Chief Berthon-Koch. “It was their discussion and their bringing it up which led to this change.”

After reviewing comments submitted by the ASCWU board and other students, Berthon-Koch and his team realized one of the biggest barriers was visual. Underrepresented groups were hesitant to approach officers who were fully equipped with tactical gear.

The solution started with a simple wardrobe change. Creating a more casual look with khaki pants and polo shirts with cloth badges has had an effect on people who may not feel comfortable coming to somebody who is in a full uniform, according to Berthon-Koch.

Along with these changes, CWU PD encourages their officers to directly interact with students. Lieutenant Marc McPherson believes that is one of the best parts of his job. 

“If I were to be working a Friday-Saturday night and didn’t have a whole lot going on,” McPherson said. “I can swing into the residence halls and play pool with the residents or games or somebody’s playing volleyball or basketball outside, I can stop and play. If it gets back to my boss, I get a pat on the back instead of reprimanded for wasting time.”

The next step in the department’s approachability initiative centers on patrol cars. Each car will be re-wrapped in a more CWU centered graphic, moving away from the standard “black and white” police paint job. The newest vehicle in the fleet, a Tesla Model Y added in late 2021, already sports the new look.