BUPD chief engages with community

Baylor Police Chief John Kolinek continues his first year on the job trying to maintain his promises to the Waco community. Photo courtesy of the Baylor Database

By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer

After being sworn in, new BUPD Chief John Kolinek outlined a series of goals he said he hoped to accomplish as chief of BUPD, with one of those goals being engaging the student body and building relationships. Kolinek said he and other BUPD officers have been spending time attending events to meet students and have also put on events of their own to engage with students.

Kolinek said he and BUPD Assistant Chief Don Rodman attended the Mosaic Mixer event the first week of the semester. Kolinek also said they attended the Black Student Welcome event, the Mosaic Asian night and the Latinx night to connect with students and offer them ways that BUPD could do anything for them.

“Out in the SUB Bowl, all the student groups and organizations were present,” Kolinek said. “[Rodman] and I spent an hour and a half to two hours at the event, just going around to the different student groups and organizations that were there and just introducing ourselves. Every group that we’ve had an opportunity to visit with has been very open and talked with us about their groups, and we just want to encourage them, if we could ever do anything to support them in any way or they had any questions for us, that to make sure that they reached out to us.”

Kolinek said he and other BUPD representatives have been attending “Table Top” events every Tuesday at the Multicultural Affairs Office in the SUB. He said the Table Top events have different board games set up so that students and staff can sit and visit with one another while having fun playing board games.

Pearl Beverly, the director of Multicultural Affairs, said the Table Top events began as a way to ease students back into being on campus. The event takes place from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Tuesday during Dr Pepper Hour. Beverly said that the events feature “good, healthy competition” and that she has seen Kolinek attend other events like Stroll-Off.

“You see an informal setting where people are just enjoying getting to know each other,” Beverly said. “[Kolinek] really wants to get to know the students. I’ve seen him at all the events. By meeting [students] in an informal setting, if there’s ever a time that he needs to talk to them, you’re in a position where you can do it. The main thing that comes out of this is that if the students have a problem, I think they would go to him because they know that he is going to receive them well.”

In addition to attending events, Kolinek said BUPD has been putting on events of their own to engage with students. There have been several “Pops with Cops” events in which BUPD officers hand out popsicles to students, and Kolinek said there will be a “Coffee with the Cops” event on Nov. 16 in front of the BUPD building. Kolinek said BUPD will be providing coffee and hot chocolate from Starbucks for students to enjoy.

Elizabeth Palacios, special assistant to the vice president of student life diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, said she believes it is important for Kolinek and BUPD to engage with the student body so that students can see officers as supporters and know and trust all elements of the Baylor campus.

“It’s amazing that [Kolinek] wants to know students and also have students know him,” Palacios said.

Kolinek said that going forward, he will continue to evaluate the department to see what they can improve on.

“We hope to evolve every single day with regard to what our duties and responsibilities are,” Kolinek said. “We always want to be stronger, better and faster every single day, so we will continue to evaluate what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”