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Lincoln University Hosts Public Safety Panel to Connect Campus with Greater Community

Misty Nunn | December 8th, 2023

Public safety officials from Jefferson City and Cole County provided valuable information to Lincoln University students, faculty, and staff during a panel discussion on Thursday, December 7. The seven-member panel, with representatives from the Lincoln University Police Department, the Jefferson City Police Department, the Cole County Sheriff’s Department, and the Jefferson City Fire Department, answered student-submitted questions on how each agency handles a range of topics, including mental health, illegal drugs, sexual assault and diversity.

Panel members agreed that developing and maintaining respectful relationships within their agencies and in the communities they protect and serve is key.

“We have a very good relationship when it comes to collaboration,” said Lincoln University Police Chief and Vice President for Campus Culture Gary Hill. “As far as the students, if there are any problems or there is anything you need, you just ask, and we will make ourselves readily available.” 

Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler added the personal side of their relationships is what makes the interagency partnerships work.

“It’s easy for the Chief of Lincoln University to say, ‘No,” to the Cole County Sheriff’s Department, but it’s hard for Gary Hill to say, ‘No,’ to John Wheeler because we’re friends,” Wheeler quipped.

Jefferson City Police Chief Eric Wilde said that even he thought the police were there to ruin the fun when he was a college student, but he understands now that public safety officials truly do have a heart for their job and for people. 

“It is no small task, to drive through this town everyday and understand that I’m responsible for the safety of everybody here, whether they’re from here or whether they’re just driving through,” Wilde offered. “But we take that burden on willingly because we care.”

The panel was hosted by Engage, a violence prevention program created by Missouri Partners and Prevention and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
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