WUPD emphasizes communication, cooperation

Yash Chitrakar

The Washburn University Police Department has protected and served Washburn for 20 years.

On any given day, WUPD officers can be seen riding their bicycles around the grounds, patrolling surrounding parking lots in their cruisers or walking amongst students making conversation. The WUPD’s main goal is to ensure a safe learning environment and to foster a tightly knit relationship with the Washburn community. To do this, the department is divided into two broad divisions: the patrol division and the communications division.

“To be honest, we don’t require more than [the patrol and communications divisions,]”  said Matt Simpson, captain of WUPD. “Other police departments have canine units, bomb squads and special operations, but we never have to combat problems that need those divisions.” 

The patrol division is comprised of officers who watch over their designated sectors on campus. These officers offer free services to students and faculty such as performing safety escorts, jumpstarting cars and helping those that are locked out of their dorms. If a case requires an investigation, the WUPD will send one of their detectives on the site. They also answer calls for service relayed to them by the communications division.

The communications division is responsible for answering incoming calls The staff also monitors multiple surveillance cameras stationed across campus. If they receive a call about a situation involving a Washburn student that is off-campus, they are responsible for notifying the Topeka Police Department.

Working with students, teachers and campus organizations to identify and solve problems is critical to the WUPD’s success.

“The difference between [citywide police] and us is that we interact with almost the same individuals every day,” Simpson said. “We act in a more personal level.”

Simpson said that the WUPD, apart from handling crime, also handles minor feuds between students, mental health problems and social issues not usually tackled by other police departments.

The WUPD maintains contact with local hospitals and clinics in order to best refer students who come to them with mental or physical health issues.

“Students can come to us for anything,” Simpson said. “We will refer them to a suitable organization.”

The WUPD’s goal of forming strong connections with the community is exemplified by the various community outreach programs they conduct. At different points throughout a semester, they give lectures on subjects pertinent to the safety of the campus, such as gun safety and sexual.

Recently, 12 of their officers went through Crisis Intervention Team training, a training program, to improve the officers responses to individuals in crisis. 

Apart from this, all officers have gone through the same amount of training, which lasts 14 weeks for 560 hours. The officers subsequently have to go through 40 hours of ongoing education. In addition to required training, they also have a formal education from accredited universities. According to Captain Simpson, some WUPD officers exceed that and train 90 hours total.

With these dedicated officers and police staff, the WUPD has made the campus safer. While the WUPD may not have the scope of citywide police departments, it does have a strong relationship with the members of its community, and for Washburn, that’s what matters.