SAFE Zone program hosts workshop with K-State and RCPD

K-State Staff members listen to four members of the Manhattan Police Department at the SAFE Zone Workshop. On Wednesday, Riley County residents and K-State faculty attended the workshop held by RCPD to learn more about law enforcement practices. (Olivia Greenman | Collegian Media Group)

SAFE Zone held a workshop Wednesday with Riley County and Kansas State police to educate K-State staff on law enforcement practices and improve the relationship between Riley County Police Department and the public.

Brandon Haddock, coordinator at the Spectrum Center, said SAFE Zone workshops help inform K-State staff.

“I know that there’s a reluctance or a lack of information that we as faculty and staff may have,” Haddock said. “With SAFE zone, because we have many workshops, [there] are multiple topics. Having faculty and staff recognizing them but being able to communicate the information necessary to help a student is so, so great. I also think that the liaison assistance that we have, especially when it comes to law enforcement, is really special.”

Several K-State Police Department and RCPD officers came to Morris Family Multicultural Student Center and informed staff of ways they keep the campus and community safe. 

Scott Hagemeister, Sergeant and LGBTQ+ liaison for the RCPD, said he’s glad to keep in communication with K-State.

“Before we just had to listen to each other on scanners,” Hagemeister said. “At night, we might be a little thin, or K-State’s a little thin or we get busy. We can listen to each other’s traffic and can back each other up on calls. We get along and work really well together.”

There has been a spike in mental illness cases in the United States. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. suffer from mental illness. William Bowles, a K-State police officer, said he wants everyone to know law enforcement can direct people to the proper mental health services.

“Beyond the law enforcement capacity, there are citizens in our community that need mental health services that we can give them [with] a pat on the back and not just come down on them with a hammer,” Bowles said. “We can be a little more delicate and get to the root of what the issue is, what the problem is, and get them what they need.”

Faculty and staff also learned at the workshop how to make campus inclusive. Hagemeister said Riley County law enforcement wants to make sure they are approachable to help those in distress. 

“Rachel [Pate] and I were attending pride committee meetings together, Little Apple Pride, and that group that we were visiting with are not people that we are generally having problems or need law enforcement assistance, so we kinda divided … and my focus right now is True Colors [LGBTQ+ Youth Center],” Sergeant Hagemeister said. “I try to stop in and have conversations with youth that are there. They weren’t comfortable with me showing up in my uniform, so now what I’m doing to build those relationships is I go, plain clothes, and I just hang out.” 

Pate, RCPD LGBTQ+ liaison, said the police department partakes in a yearly culture and diversity awareness training.

“We did an hour and a half [to] two hour class that every single employee went through,” Pate said. “It is now included in our training program, where all the new officers get to a portion of that to where they’re asked to do an additional culture, diversity and inclusion training.”