Published: March 7, 2023

Across the nation, police departments are struggling with officer shortages, and campus police departments are not immune to challenges in filling their ranks. The shortages stem from increased officer retirements and resignations following police killings of citizens, including Tyre Nichols, whose recent death was soundly condemned by the CU Boulder Police Department and other Boulder County public safety agencies.

CUPD will use funding from a recent grant awarded by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice to launch a three-tiered approach to recruit and retain quality police officers. The grant will help CUPD provide more officer training, expand its outreach efforts and better assess the campus community’s satisfaction with its police force.

“It’s important for our students, faculty and staff to know we support the university and its mission by providing public safety services 24/7 and 365 days a year,” said CU Boulder Police Chief Doreen Jokerst. “It's equally important for us to get to know the community we serve, and vice versa. This grant will help us build stronger, more trusting relationships with those we serve,” she added.

A CUPD officer engaging with students and community members

CUPD officers engage with students and campus community members during a Coffee with a Cop event in spring 2019. Photo by Patrick Campbell/CU Boulder.

Expanding the reach of events such as Coffee with a Cop, where students interact with officers in a casual environment, provides community benefit, helping the university population recognize and lean on CUPD as a full-service police department uniquely positioned to respond to the needs of a large campus community. 

The grant also will be used to expand police training in diversity, equity and inclusion, building upon recent anti-bias and communications trainings and active bystander training, which is designed to help first responders do a better job of identifying police misconduct in peers and to intervene when necessary.

Sgt. Brian Brown, who oversees CUPD’s training program, said the grant funding will make an already robust slate of training sessions even stronger. “We train our officers in de-escalation, communication and ensuring that the sanctity of human life is at the core of every interaction. We are excited to double down on that commitment by offering even more training opportunities to officers and staff members who engage regularly with the public.”

The additional training and community engagement is designed to build stronger relationships between police and those they serve, increasing confidence in and familiarity with the department. It also serves to remind students, faculty and staff to utilize CUPD as a public safety resource and first-line option to share safety concerns.

Those who have attended Coffee with a Cop events, or who participate in the future, will be given the opportunity to complete a short survey, which will help the university assess perception and opinion of the police department, and offer a chance to suggest other ways in which CUPD could engage.

Coffee with a Cop locations and times are announced on CUPD’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.