Board will address community concerns with campus police

Police Chief Michael Horak, left, and Capt. Timothy Ellington explore ideas to improve police relations with students and staff. PHOTO BY JONATHAN WENCES/THE ET CETERA.
Police Chief Michael Horak, left, and Capt. Timothy Ellington explore ideas to improve police relations with students and staff. PHOTO BY JONATHAN WENCES/THE ET CETERA.
Police Chief Michael Horak, left, and Capt. Timothy Ellington
explore ideas to improve police relations with students and staff. PHOTO BY JONATHAN WENCES/THE ET CETERA.
By Parker Ward

In an effort to connect more with students and faculty, Eastfield Police Chief Michael Horak has created an advisory board that will meet quarterly to keep up with police matters and concerns among the community.

This group of volunteers is made up of math professor Terrance Wickman, Executive Dean of Institutional Research and Decision Support Ricardo Rodriguez, admissions employee Joel Clump, criminal justice professor Dora Falls, librarian Kwashawn Barnett and Director of Dual Credit LaQueshah Foster.

They also plan to include two more seats for student representatives from organizations like the Student Government Association.

Eastfield police held a forum on March 11 to talk with college employees about police relations on campus.

Horak and Capt. Timothy Ellington told employees their main goal was to assure the safety of students and staff, but they also wanted to connect with the community more and not adhere to the “negative image” of police violence and negligence in the media.

“We have to work doubly hard when students and staff come here so that we don’t add to that negative reporting,” Ellington said.

Faculty asked questions about training for campus carry policies, which will be implemented in fall 2017. Horak said that they will implement a plan once the Dallas County Community College District creates one.

“We have to wait for the district … because they’ll want all the police departments doing and saying the same thing,” Horak said. “They’ll give us those guidelines and we’ll implement them.”

Ellington also explained the difference between concealed and open carry. Only students with concealed carry licenses will be allowed to carry a hidden gun, unlike police officers, who carry guns openly at their waist.

Open carry is legal in Texas, but under new law, only concealed carry will be allowed on campus. Concealed handgun owners must be at least 21 years old and meet federal guidelines pertaining to their criminal record and dependency on drugs and alcohol.

Under the new laws, there would be a chance for “gun-free” zones. In a forum with students and faculty last fall, the SGA designated the C building as their preferred “gun-free” zone. However, this decision must be sent to President Jean Conway for further review.

Horak is also holding a “Coffee with the Chief” event April 13 to introduce students to police officers.

“That relationship [between student and officer] is really important,” Horak said. “That’s why we really have a great job here at Eastfield College because the officers can have that one-on-one rather than in a regular municipality where you are just going from call to call.”

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