By Melissa Proulx
FORMER STAFF WRITER
Once student body president-elect Cam Cook takes over on May 1, the University of New Hampshire Police Department and the Student Senate will work to create and maintain a relationship unlike one they’ve had before.
Called the Public Safety Advisory Committee to the Chief, the committee serves a dual purpose. The first is that UNH’s Chief of Police, Paul Dean, will answer any questions that the students on the committee have. The other half of the conversation will involve Dean bringing in officers to teach the students about their efforts and programs as well.
Both parties believe that the aim of the group will be to create a more open dialogue between the students and the police department.
“It will allow me to have more formal contact with students,” Dean said.
This new group is predicted to meet on average about once a month and consist of four to five different members of a broad demographic. For example, Cook said that he would like to have a student from the Multicultural Society along with students who are either freshmen, seniors or commuter students.
“It’s all about trying to reach as many students as possible,” Cook said. “We want to diversify the group as much as possible.”
Much of the inspiration for starting the committee comes from Cook’s work with the Student Senate over the last couple of years. Having been invited to participate his freshmen by the current student body president, Joe Sweeney, Cook said that he instantly appreciated the opportunity.
During his time, Cook became involved with the position of Judicial Affairs Chairperson this past year, a move that inspired him to adopt his justice studies minor.
In this role, Cook has worked with Dean and the Durham Chief of Police David Kurz on some issues involving public safety, the most recent being preparing behind the scenes for potential riots after the Superbowl in February.
Dean has also visited with Student Senate beforehand, his most recent time being Sunday, April 19.
“I cut it off at an hour, but I could have been there for another two or three,” Dean said.
Despite this constant contact and availability, Cook still felt the need to grow the conversation more.
“On my end, I don’t want students to think that talking to administrators is some big scary thing,” Cook said.
Both parties hold optimistic views about the committee, believing that it will run smoothly as long as there is interest.
“It’s a high priority for Ryan [Grogan, student body vice president] and I to keep this going,” Cook said.
Cook, who had this committee as part of his campaign platform, said that he will do his part to make sure that it carries on once his time is up a year from now.
“I hope that this is the legacy I will leave behind,” Cook said.
Both Cook and Dean plan to keep the committee in it’s predicted format, believing that this size will allow it to work the most effective and efficiently. Dean hopes to expand the committee to include the UNH Law School and the UNH Manchester campuses
Though a specified example, the two hope that this will be another way for students to participate in the discussion of public safety.
“Everybody needs to be involved in their own safety,” Dean said. “It’s important that we have discussions like this.”