University police expand community outreach

University police expand community outreach

Nebraska K-9 officers Russell Johnson Jr. (left) and Greg Byelick talk with Husker fans prior to the Husker football spring game on April 15. The University Police Department has launched a new effort to expand outreach to the campus community.
Troy Fedderson | University Communication
Nebraska K-9 officers Russell Johnson Jr. (left) and Greg Byelick talk with Husker fans prior to the Husker football spring game on April 15. The University Police Department has launched a new effort to expand outreach to the campus community.

A shift in mindset has University of Nebraska–Lincoln police expanding outreach efforts to improve public relations and enhance campus law enforcement.

The project, which launched earlier this year, is an extension of the University Police Department’s forward-thinking training efforts. Rather than a traditional focus on training to strengthen law enforcement techniques, the outreach effort is aimed at softening the presence of the badge and uniform while in public.

“Too often interactions with police are associated with negative events — be it tied to a crime, accident or some other incident — and can be extremely stressful,” said Sgt. Jeremy Carther, who is part of the University Police Department’s joint effort. “By opening up and reaching out to the campus community on a day-to-day basis, we hope to humanize the badge and help students, faculty and staff be more comfortable in situations involving police officers.”

Officers are allowed to develop individual ways to increase public interactions. Carther said officer plans have ranged from holding education events with large groups of students to more personal one-on-one interactions over coffee.

The different approaches allow the officers to tailor the outreach effort to individual strengths, which will make the interactions more effective.


Sgt. Jeremy Carther
Sgt. Jeremy Carther

“Our goal is to create a collegial relationship so students, faculty and staff feel safer when they are on campus. If we can succeed in making you feel safer, then we are doing our jobs.”

Sgt. Jeremy Carther


“At the end of the shift, when the badge and uniform come off, we’re just normal people,” Carther said. “Some of us like to go home and play video games, binge watch Netflix, talk history or go to movies. Making the outreach efforts personal will help people realize that police officers are humans too.”

Through one project, an officer has focused on following up with individuals who make reports to police, checking in to see if things are OK after an incident. Another effort is combining the outreach with crime reduction/resolution, encouraging students to register easily-stolen items (like electronics). Other concepts include expanding foot patrols and creating public safety videos.

Areas of focus have included programming for students in Nebraska residence halls and Greek houses. One of those recent events, a collaboration with University Housing, focused on Husker football game day information and drew more than 100 participants from Abel and Sandoz residence halls.

“The ‘Bags and Badges’ event was directed at educating students about game day policies and alcohol awareness,” Carther said. “We handed out clear game-day bags and, with help from beer goggle simulators, ran the students through sobriety tests. In terms of interactions with students, it was very successful.”

As Nebraska’s new academic year progresses, officers plan to continue with and expand upon the outreach project. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to interact with the officers as they patrol campus.

“We’re friendly and approachable in all situations,” Carther said. “If you have a question or if you are having a bad day and want someone to talk to, come over and say, ‘hi.’

“Our goal is to create a collegial relationship so students, faculty and staff feel safer when they are on campus. If we can succeed in making you feel safer, then we are doing our jobs.”