LGBTQA community invited to chat with University Police

Zoe Martin
April 23, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In recognition of Campus Pride Month, Penn State University Police is hosting a Community-Oriented Policing (COPS) Chat for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Ally community at 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 24 in the LGBTQA Resource Center.

Modeled after the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Chat program, COPS Chat offers students in the LGBTQA Resource Center an opportunity to have their questions answered in an informal session where students can ask a police officer questions they have regarding bias, discrimination or other general law enforcement topics. The event is an opportunity to create a safe space for students to ask questions they may otherwise be apprehensive to discuss with police.

Sgt. Monica Himes, Penn State police liaison to the LGBTQA Student Resource Center, partners with the center to organize and lead the event. She is also a member of the Penn State Finance and Business Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Priority team, including the PRIDE Week Celebration Sub-Committee, and a member of the LGBTQA Advisory Committee with the Borough of State College.

“We want to be available to students to quell any fears or misunderstandings they may have surrounding our police department,” Himes said. “We want students to feel comfortable coming to us should the need arise.”

As a member of the LGBTQA community, Himes sees great value in such outreach programs, which are intended to build trusting relationships with the community.

“Students need someone they can relate to, especially with concerns they may have or when filing reports,” Himes said. “If I can be that person for someone after a connection is made through a COPS Chat, it is worth it.”

Sonya Wilmoth, assistant director at the resource center, sees Penn State police outreach programs as opportunities to create a positive relationship between the LGBTQA and law enforcement communities.

“COPS Chat exists because our students had questions about their rights,” Wilmoth said. “We are not equipped to answer them, but Sgt. Himes is.”

Currently, COPS Chat is very informal. Himes and the resource center are hoping to expand the program to give more LGBTQA students access to the event.

“When more students can take part, both communities are better off in the long run,” Himes said.

This event is the fourth of its kind this semester. University Police has also participated in other University events celebrating Campus Pride Month, including the Pride March on April 5.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 22, 2020