Students spent some of their leisure time with members of the campus police department in Taylor Hall Tuesday night.
Pizza, Pool and Police, hosted by Residence Life and Conference Services, allowed students to get to know the university police officers.
Kelsey Cripe, assistant director of Residence Life and Conference Services, said the idea of the night was to try and bridge the gap between the students and the police.
“We wanted to bring light to the fact that they are real people and a great resource for residents on campus,” Cripe said.
Residents got to have fun by playing pool and table tennis with different members of the police department. A plethora of pizza was also provided for those who came to participate.
“The police are there for the people and residents, and all they want is to help them at the end of the day,” Cripe said.
Alex Oakley, University Police patrol sergeant, said activities such as this help to make the police force seem more approachable.
“We’re here if you need us, and we’re not here to just take your reports if something happens,” Oakley said. “We’re here to also serve you, be proactive and be involved with your stay here at Eastern.”
Oakley said while the police department is currently shorthanded, he enjoys having opportunities to reach out to the residents of Eastern.
“Our main objective at the department is to maintain peace, order and safety through Illinois state and vehicle codes, and also through enforcing university regulations,” Oakley said.
Erin Kristovich, a senior organizational and professional development major, said she appreciates the officers for coming out to interact with the students.
“At my last college, the officers interacted with us a lot, and we could go up and just kind of joke with them,” Kristovich said. “It’s good to start to see that kind of relationship here.”
During the night, officers were laughing and joking with Eastern residents as they challenged each other in table tennis and got to know each other.
Kristovich said she thinks it is beneficial for members of the police department to interact with the students.
“The more they get to know the people they protect and serve, the easier it will be for them to do that job,” Kristovich said.
Kristovich spent a majority of her night playing table tennis with the different officers.
“It’s unusual for me to do something like that,” Kristovich said. “None of us were really any good at it, but it was actually super fun.”
Kristovich said she had a great time at the turnout and could see herself coming to another night like it.
“Everyone was just really friendly, and I had a lot of fun,” Kristovich said.
There were smiling faces all around and many people participating in the different games until the night ended.
Kristovich said the best part of the night was getting to bond with the officers who attended.
“Anyone who can do a job that no one else wants to do, and to be able to do it in a friendly manner, that makes a hero to me,” Kristovich said. “And it makes me feel safe knowing we’ve got a lot of heroes around here looking out for us.”
Travis Moody can be reached at 518-2812 or at [email protected]