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  • Ava C. Green

Give peace (officers) a chance!

Public Safety Officer Jared Westhoven, newly promoted to Community Policing officer, details his plans for the new role

By: Ava C. Green, Editor-in-Chief

That’s right, “peace” officer. A peace officer is different from a cop, and they staff Canisius University’s Public Safety. Peace officers are crisis intervention trained and have all of the same basic abilities as the Buffalo Police department but go through a smaller academy and can’t issue warrants. Jared Westhoven and his fellow peace officers focus on community-oriented policing instead of crime-prevention policing.

In his days as an undergraduate student at the former “Canisius College,” Jared spent his time involved on campus, studying forensics, and watching shows like “Criminal Minds” and “Lie to Me,” dreaming of the day he could work for the FBI.

10 days before he was set to graduate with a degree in criminal justice and psychology, Westhoven put in his application to be a Public Safety dispatcher — an application Chief Kim Beaty immediately threw in the garbage. She knew Jared as a student, and therefore he was not eligible for the position. After explaining himself and his situation to Chief Beaty, now two days before graduation, he was offered and accepted a job.

Years after her accidental dismissal of Westhoven, Beaty went on to develop the new role of Community Policing officer specifically for Jared. Chief Beaty told The Griffin, “Jared was my best hire,” and he hopes the new position will give him the resources and opportunity to implement his endless list of ideas for Public Safety-centered programming.

Officer Jared (who prefers this over “Officer Westhoven”) was sworn in as a Public Safety Dispatcher in March, 2020: Jared joked, “And I’m sure you know, not much was really going on that year.” He continued saying that the pandemic caused his training to be postponed, meaning he’d have to patrol on foot until permitted to do otherwise. Jared continued that being patient for the training was a challenge, but in the meantime, he was able to learn the ins-and-outs of the campus and make more casual, face-to-face connections with the community.

These are values that stayed with him as he moved up the ranks, and Jared said he plans to integrate them in his new role. All of his initiatives are generally centered around one thing: transparency — something we, a newspaper, sure can get behind. He believes that many students are unaware of the variety of services Public Safety can provide, like mental health intervention and deescalation.

Westhoven is deeply aware of the stigma surrounding his profession, especially in light of the murder of George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer just months after Jared’s swearing in ceremony. He is also aware that personally connecting with the people he is charged with protecting is one of the most important ways to make it known that Public Safety is there to do just that — protect. Officer Jared gave The Griffin the same line he gives all the new Griffs: “We’re not here to get you in trouble: we’re here to get you to graduation safely.”

Jared, as the Community Policing officer, has plenty of plans to get us all across the stage unscathed. Along with education programs surrounding student safety precautions and practices, he’d also like to incorporate events that encourage any type of community interaction, most excited at the idea of a “coffee with a cop” event.

Public Safety has been looking for students to fill escort positions in their “Walk Safe” campaign, and Officer Jared hopes that these changes will make students more eager to apply.

Jared Westhoven wants the university to know that he’s, “just a dude,” referring to the unnecessary intimidation students feel when they see them in uniform. It’s an understandable point — that he wants us to see the person beneath the badge — but we disagree. Officer Jared is “just” anything: he’s a peace officer through-and-through.

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