The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Police Department is hoping to make long-lasting connections with the campus community and surrounding neighborhoods with the start of a community liaison officer program.
The community liaison officers will provide safety and security programming, answer questions about law enforcement, anticipate community concerns, and address safety issues.
This is a volunteer program that will be run by Assistant Police Chief Benjamin Rommel. Patrolmen Gavin Hurst and Roy Mayo will serve as community liaison officers, while Corp. Gary McGee will serve as the campus housing liaison officer.
“The goal of the program is for the community to see the police officers and for the officers to explain campus law enforcement practices and to see to the community’s concerns,” Rommel said.
The UA Little Rock Police Department is actively involved in the community by participating in the National Drug Take Back program and by providing self-defense, Rape Aggression Defense (RAD), and active-shooter training.
“Chief Regina Wade-Carter has wanted the department to do more community outreach for a while,” Rommel said. “It takes a special person to put their life on the line. We are hoping by us actively stepping out there and meeting people, it will convince them that we are here to help. We do have knowledge of the university and know about the university’s resources.”
Hurst, a former sheriff’s deputy, said he was inspired to volunteer for the community liaison officer program after seeing how well community outreach worked when he was at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
“Law enforcement needs to be more proactive in the community that it is involved in,” Hurst said. “I think it would be good for the community and good for students to know why we are here. We are here to help them and protect them. Even if they are down about their classes, they can always call us to ask for help.”
Hurst said he would like to start programs that allow community members more opportunities to get to know the campus police officers and what they do, such as Coffee with a Cop and police ride-alongs.
McGee, who has worked as the community housing officer, enjoys being a source of knowledge to students who have questions about law enforcement.
“I am connected with this community in numerous ways,” McGee said. “I used to live in University Village, so I had a unique perspective living with the students. It’s become second nature to me to be able to give what knowledge I have in different subjects.
“Law enforcement is mostly reactive. This community liaison program will bring more of a proactive approach. There is a lot of mistrust with law enforcement. We don’t have that big of an issue on campus, but we still want to earn trust in the community.”
For more information on the community liaison officer program, contact Rommel at email@example.com.
In the upper right photo, a new UA Little Rock Campus Police community liaison officer program is headed up by Assistant Police Chief Benjamin Rommel, center. Patrolmen Gavin Hurst, left, will serve as a community liaison officer, while Corp. Gary McGee, right, will serve as the campus housing liaison officer. Photo by Ben Krain.