February 19, 2008

Police officers, students to talk over dinner

by Eric Welch

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Local police and Southern Illinois University Carbondale students will be seeing more of each other in the next few months, but not on the shoulder of the highway. Instead, Carbondale and SIUC law enforcement officers will be sharing meals with students in an effort to address their concerns and answer questions.

Officers will be eating at Trueblood dining hall from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20, and will continue dining in on the third Wednesday of each month for the remainder of the academic year.

"We want to get students feeling more comfortable around law enforcement officers," said Alfred Jackson, assistant director of University Housing Residence Life for retention and outreach. "This will give a forum for students to bring up issues and diffuse some misunderstandings about the police."

The dinners, which are an extension of the Carbondale Police Learning Circle, will also help officers to understand their duties better and gain a better idea of what students think about people in uniform.

"The officers will be open to whatever questions students have," Jackson said. "I hope this fosters better relationships and puts students at ease."