As the UC Davis Police Department’s first CORE Officer, Jena Du ’15 has stepped into a role devoted to helping her Aggie community feel heard.
The position seeks to serve the “core” of the campus community by building relationships and focusing on outreach and engagement. Du is dressed in plain clothes to help ease the minds of members of the campus community who might otherwise feel uncomfortable around police.
Like many campus police officers, Du graduated from UC Davis. She came to the university as a political science major, planning to be a lawyer.
“The law was always super interesting to me,” Du explained.
Her career path shifted with her experiences on campus. Du joined the Aggie Host program as a student and worked with the campus police department. After graduation, she started the police academy and, upon completion, returned to campus as an officer with the UC Davis Police Department.
She served three years at the UC Davis main campus and two years at UC Davis Health in Sacramento. After those five years, she had been “looking for a change” and the CORE Officer program was “a good change of pace.”
The CORE Officer program provides an opportunity for students and staff to contact Du and discuss any issues they may be facing. For staff members, these issues may include a security assessment for an office burglary or de-escalating a situation involving a student or fellow staff member. Students may contact the CORE Officer for a range of topics such as bike safety or more difficult topics including sexual assault. In more sensitive situations, the officer will aid in every way she can and provide further options for assistance.
This position is very different than that of traditional police patrol. Usually when on patrol, officers do not have the time to have a lengthy conversation with members of their community.
“With CORE I can take 30 minutes to answer those questions. We want to have an open door for people who have questions,” Du said.
“Repeatedly I’ve had people tell me ‘I’m just glad I could talk to somebody and have my concerns heard.’”
The desire to build trusting, lasting relationships with the campus community is a shared value between Du and the CORE Officer program.
“We can’t force people to trust us,” Du explained. “We have to earn that.”