National Night Out connects police with Baylor community

By Brooke Bentley | Reporter

Fountain Mall drew an enthusiastic crowd Tuesday evening, complete with Instagram selfies with Police Chief Brad Wigtil, a dunking booth to dunk Baylor University police officers and parking staff, “drunk goggle” driving courses and more.

The Baylor University Police Department held its first National Night Out event to join other Texas communities in an effort to focus on creating safer neighborhoods and building relationships with local law enforcement. Catered toward promoting overall campus safety and crime prevention, the event offered a fun and informative night for the Baylor community.

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Police officers judge the sorority pie making contest. Photo credit: Brooke Bentley

“We’re real human beings and not just cops driving around in cars,” said Chris Farr, Baylor Police Department investigator. “We just want everybody to know who we are, what we look like, and hopefully for us to be able to give them a little bit of an opportunity to see what we really do.”

Beginning with residential hall safety contests and a philanthropy-themed sorority bake-off competition, students competed for prizes and bragging rights for their residence halls and organizations. Throughout the night, guests were also encouraged to take selfies with Police Chief Brad Wigtil and post them on Instagram for prizes.

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Baylor students had the opportunity to meet Baylor Police Department officers. Photo credit: Brooke Bentley

“I think events like this are so important because the officers do so much for us, and I think sometimes we don’t realize just how much they really do,” said Fort Collins, Colo., senior Payton Gray, Baylor Delta Delta Delta president. “I think realizing that they are an incredible resource that we should use every chance we get is great.”

Participants attempted to drive golf carts through a traffic cone course while wearing fatal vision, or “drunk,” goggles and then took standard sobriety tests to experience the impairing effects of alcohol. Vendors also handed out cards that detect if drinks have been compromised with certain drugs. The night concluded with rides in the Sky Watch unit to teach students about the campus camera system, as well as bike safety information sessions and complementary bicycle safety checks by Bear Mountain.

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A police officer helps a Baylor student walk with “drunk goggles.” Photo credit: Brooke Bentley

“It’s so good to get to know the officers like this because I think sometimes there can be a negative relationship there between students and officers, and I don’t think that should be the case at all. So it’s great to see them in a more casual environment and get to know them that way,” Gray said.

The Baylor Police Department hopes the event will help students better understand topics such as alcohol awareness, texting and driving, bike safety and sexual assault awareness and prevention all in way that promotes fun and community around the campus.

“We want students to know that we’re a loving and caring community and that we’re here to support each other,” said Kandy Knowles, Baylor Police Department crime prevention officer. “If there’s anything that they need, we are here for them. That’s why we have our jobs, and that’s why we work here.”

The Baylor Police Department said they are happy with the turnout of the event and are optimistic for its repeated success next year.