A secure and successful campus

CMU police officers are well-trained to create a safe living and learning community

| Author: Ari Harris

They’ve trained alongside the United States Secret Service. They are state leaders in digital forensics. They are leaders in safety and security best practices, and they are wholly committed to student success.

They are the Central Michigan University police.

“Our students are here to better themselves and improve their lives, and we’re here to provide them with a safe community while they do,” said CMU Police Lt. Mike Sienkiewicz.

Beyond the basics

Members of the CMU Police Department, all sworn officers certified by the State of Michigan, receive the same core training that every officer must complete. But CMU police officers receive additional training to equip them to manage the unique safety concerns of a college campus.

The department’s Special Victims Investigative Cadre provides training on investigations that include sexual assaults, sexual exploitation, dating violence, domestic assault and stalking. The training emphasizes a “victim-centered approach” that includes connecting survivors to available resources and campus accommodations.

In addition, every officer attends annual training on campus sexual assault and works frequently with staff from CMU’s Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equity and Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates program to ensure officers know how to work with survivors of assault.

In addition, several CMUPD officers receive training annually in other specialty areas designed to keep campus safe.

For example, incoming Chief Larry Klaus and several CMUPD sergeants and officers recently attended a national advanced threat assessment training program to help officers identify, assess, respond to and manage potential threats to campus.

Sienkiewicz attended training alongside Secret Service agents at the National Computer Forensics Institute and now assists other regional police agencies with digital investigations. With this training, CMU’s police department has become a state leader in digital forensics — the ability to collect information from digital devices such as cellphones, tablets and computers.

“We want to leverage technology as a force multiplier,” Sienkiewicz said. “Conducting digital investigations not only allows us to resolve investigations we could not have completed in the past, it also can save time and free up other valuable resources.”

CMUPD Det. Jason VanConant will soon attend a similar four-week training with NCFI to expand the department’s abilities, Sienkiewicz said.

Safer by design

And one CMUPD officer also is trained in crime prevention through environmental design and often participate in conversations about campus construction projects, Sienkiewicz said.

“It could mean putting up hedges to encourage people to walk in safe places, trimming trees and bushes to make areas more visible, adding additional lights or cameras, or even adding windows to a building during design development. People feel safer when they feel seen,” he said.

Each year, CMU police officers participate in an evening “lighting walk,” led by Facilities Management, along with members of Residence Life and the Student Government Association. Students, staff and officers walk through campus and identify places that need additional lighting to feel safe.

Team training

In early 2017, CMUPD installed a MILO Range 180 Theater system — an interactive audio and video system that allows officers to react to lifelike scenarios such as domestic violence and active shooters.

Sienkiewicz said most officers train weekly with MILO, and the department welcomes officers from other local police agencies to use the system.

And CMUPD often works closely with its regional partners to maintain a safe community, Sienkiewicz said. The department trains together frequently with Mount Pleasant and Shepherd police and Isabella County Sheriff’s office, as well as with the Michigan State Police.

“Training together allows us to build trust among agencies so that when incidents occur, we know we can count on each other, and we’re not having to figure out how to work together as we respond.”

Relationship-based policing

CMU’s police officers aren’t partnering only with other safety and security forces. Sienkiewicz said CMU’s team-based approach to maintain a safe campus involves working closely with the Office of Information Technology, Residence Life, student affairs, facilities management and more.

For example, CMUPD has been working with facilities management to install new access controls and door locks in academic buildings and residence halls, Sienkiewicz said.

“This relationship-based policing allows us to build trust with staff and students and allows us to accomplish far more than we could alone,” he said.

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