Alcohol. Fights. Overdoses. Puke.
This past school year, those four things have been common themes in Pullman police officers Chris Engle and Heidi Lambley’s weekend shifts patrolling College Hill.
Their slower nights involved noise complaints and minor in possession arrests. Their busier nights were spent responding to assaults, falls and even a domestic dispute that escalated to a stabbing.
Most of the incidents, no matter how severe, revolved around a single thing — alcohol.
Many students recognize Engle and Lambley from the reality TV show "Campus PD" or from The Daily Evergreen’s series of ridealong stories. Many also know them from their constant networking and safety panels with various student groups including the Greek community and athletic teams.
Some students love them. Others do not. Some yell, swear and even throw things at them. Despite the occasional bad interaction, both Engle and Lambley said it seems the animosity toward police is less this year than in previous years.
“It’s not nearly as bad as it used to be,” Lambley said.
The Pullman Police Department have assigned two officers to specifically cover the College Hill neighborhood every year since the riots in the late ‘90s when WSU first earned its national reputation as a party school. The ’98 riot that involved hundreds of students erupted after university officials tried to impose a dry campus policy. The riot ended with 23 injured officers and several thousand dollars in property damage.
Following the riot, the police department imposed a more proactive policing approach that involves having police patrol and interact with students throughout the weekend. The department aims to prevent things like fights and intoxicated crowds from escalating into a more dangerous situation.
As the beat officers assigned to College Hill, Engle and Lambley act as the liaison between the police department and the WSU students who live off campus. This year, much of the responsibility of police-student relations fell on Engle and Lambley.
Both officers describe the responsibility to be sometimes exhausting, and other times rewarding.
Because the majority of the people they deal with are younger, Lambley said there is a greater chance of making a positive impact on their lives.
“Most of the people we deal with aren’t criminals,” Engle said. “They’re people who make bad decisions.”
Sometimes students cooperate and listen to Engle and Lambley, like this weekend when two young men were shoving each other on the sidewalk as Engle drove by them.
Engle rolled down his window, pointed at them and said, "Hands to yourself! And go home!"
Both young men stopped pushing each other and responded with a polite, "Yes sir."
Other times, however, their presence is not received as postively, such as a few weeks ago when Lambley was passing by a party and someone threw a beer can at her head.
Despite the stress of their job and the late-night work schedule, both Lambley and Engle are currently assigned to return as the beat officers for the next school year.
“It’s good for the position to have some stability,” Lambley said. “In the past there were officers who stayed in the position for a long time. It was really successful, and I want to try and do that.”
Lambley, a University of Idaho alumna, has worked in the Pullman Police Department for almost eight years. Engle, who will graduate from WSU’s distance degree program this week, has worked with the department for almost five years.
Both Engle and Lambley said the most unforgettable thing they came across during their shifts this school year was "the dude who pooped through his pants."
The “projectile pooper” incident happened last fall when they were dispatched to respond to an individual who was so intoxicated he lost control of his bowel movements. Lambley said the smell was so bad she had to leave the residence to "get some air."
"I don't think I will ever forget that," Engle said. "Unfortunately."