CWU News

CWU Police Department Featured in National Publication

CWU Police Department Tesla patrol car

The CWU Police Department has updated its image in recent years to become more approachable in the campus community.

The Central Washington University Police Department was featured nationally on the Inside Higher Ed website on Friday, April 15, in an article called "Making Campus Police More Approachable."

The article, by reporter Josh Moody, talks about how CWU and other campus police departments have updated their uniforms and cars to appear less intimidating and to help earn the trust of the students they serve.

CWU Police Chief Jason Berthon-Koch was quoted extensively throughout the story, noting that the department has been undergoing changes since 2017 after listening to what students were saying about how they perceived the department.

CWU Police Chief Jason Berthon-Koch“Sometimes people in our underrepresented student groups have this image of the police, because they may have had a bad interaction somewhere else, and that police uniform might be a barrier for them to feel that you’re approachable, that you can come up and be spoken to, that you can have a conversation,” Berthon-Koch said in the article. “So with that, we made the decision to listen to our community but also to respect the officer’s ability to do their job.”

He also talked about how the department is transitioning away from the traditional black-and-white cruisers to a "softer" appearance, such as the Tesla patrol car that was recently introduced to the force.

Another key to making the shift has been forging stronger connections between students and campus police, which typically requires more than khakis and polo shirts.

“Changing the uniform is not going to create instant community trust,” Berthon-Koch said. “That’s a step that I think a lot of people need to understand, especially in leadership positions. We, as chiefs, can talk about community policing, we can philosophically debate it, but until you actually walk the walk, you don’t make a change.”

Media contact: David Leder, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1518.