Program lets students share coffee, donuts, conversation with UHPD
Thursday evening, Bayou Oaks residents chatted with the University of Houston Police Department as part of the monthly Adopt-A-Cop event between officers and students.
On campus, there are currently two active programs that facilitate the interaction between UHPD and students: Adopt-A-Cop and Coffee with a Cop.
“Coffee with a Cop is a social interaction between the community and with UHPD,” said Sgt. Dina Padovan, UHPD’s crime prevention coordinator. “It is our chance to build our relationship with our community, to say ‘Hey, let’s just have a conversation.’”
Padovan said the program is held in the morning and is open to students, faculty and staff. Residence halls provide the donuts and UHPD provides the coffee.
Unlike Coffee with a Cop, Adopt-A-Cop is a program for officers who are assigned to patrol operations in an assigned residential area. The number of officers varies and depends on the size of the residential area.
“We want to build a relationship, a trust between the residential community and us,” Padovan said. “Like, open the doors for communication, so when you see something, people feel confident and they know we are going to do something. They would call us.”
Cougar Village II officer Benjamin Sosa said that during each shift, each officer is assigned somewhere to help students.
“I provide a service (for) something you don’t understand, maybe something is confusing, maybe you need to talk to somebody, you need to ask if something is illegal, or maybe you need to request more training,” Sosa said.
Some of the duties of the officers include: patrolling the residence halls, talking with the desk assistants, doing a check on the building, meeting with residential life coordinators and talking with residents.
In order to break the ice and get to know officers better, students are free to ask officers any questions that come to mind.
“The residential staff have that one officer that comes to their area so they are familiar with the officers,” Padovan said. “Sometimes they call them by first name, and students will call them by their first name. That’s how I know they are starting to know their officers. It puts that connection and brings that partnership.”
The next coffee with a cop is scheduled to take place on March 2 in Butler Plaza.
Padovan said UHPD wants to create an atmosphere where they can interact and get to know students at times when they are not called to respond to incidents.
“I feel like sometimes people don’t take the time to get to know them because they are an authority figure,” said human resources senior Taylor Peterson, a residence assistant at Bayou Oaks. “So I feel this helps connect the residents and the officers, so they feel more comfortable around them.”