The WSU Police Advisory Board acts as a liaison between the WSU community and the campus police department. They also try and break misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding the region’s police.
“The board are members of the WSU community who meet with the police chief and bring him any concerns about things happening on campus,” said Zach Hays, the chair of the advisory board.
They provide feedback and input about how the police might interact with the community better, he said. In addition, the board serves as a group for the police department to meet with and discuss policies or other things they may want to put into action, such as creating a Twitter account.
“We have members throughout the WSU community and we meet with the (police) department about things we think the student community should be aware of,” he said.
Board member Kimberly Barrett said the advisory board began after the 1996 riots. It had three to five members, and since its creation it has continuously grown in size. There are now about 15 to 20 members.
“It’s a fairly active board now compared to what it used to be,” she said.
One of the major events the board participates in are the “Face to Face” forums where WSU police meets with students and discuss various safety topics, Hays said. There are six forums a years, three each semester.
One of the topics the board brought to the attention of students in a forum last year was regarding the mixture of energy drinks and alcohol, he said. It was following the hospitalization of students at Central Washington University after drinking Four Loko and after the hospitals in the region said they saw an increase of cases of hospitalizations.
The forums were partially built out of trying to combat misconceptions of the WSU and Pullman police, Barrett said.
“There was this real misconception that the police did not have the same type of training and that they were kind of rent-a-cops,” she said. “When instead, they go through the exact training that every other cop goes through and that was something we wanted to clarify with the forums.”
The police officers enjoy participating in the forums and interacting with students, WSU Police Department Lt. Steve Hansen said.
“We were especially pleased with the first forum this semester,” Hays said. “In the past it’s kind of been a mixed bag. Sometimes it depends on the topic.”
In addition to the “Face to Face” forums, the board is also involved in the planning and installation of various safety projects such as lighting, traffic signals and hazards as well as the blue emergency call buttons throughout campus.
The call buttons have been used in emergency calls since their initial installation, Hansen said.
“Sometimes at the end of a football game we know a lot of them get punched by people just walking by but they have been helpful in some instances,” he said. “We’d rather see them out there and see them used once for legitimate purposes.”
Anyone can apply to be a member of the Police Advisory Board, Hays said. The board meets once a month and the meetings are open to the public.