By Ryan Hill

DAVIS (CBS13) – UC Davis police are having one of their officers put away the badge and gun for a more hands-on approach with its campus police department.

Jena Du is the university’s first CORE officer. It’s a new program that launched in September 2020 aimed at improving community relations with a plainclothes officer.

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“I can listen to your concerns and see what we can do about it while dressed down without that visual of uniform and all of my equipment right out on display that can put people a little more at ease even knowing I am an officer,” Du said.

Du responds to non-emergency calls like bike thefts, personal safety concerns or other issues to have an informal way to linking up with campus police if people may not want to meet with a uniformed officer.

Part of this officer’s mission is pointing people in the right direction to police resources, answering questions about their situation from the law enforcement side of things and building a bridge between those on campus and campus police.

“I can give them a chance to air their frustration but also get some answers,” Du said. “Because often, it’s not necessarily that people are upset with what’s being done, people are upset because they don’t understand why things are being done or why things aren’t being done.”

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Creating that bridge is something students are happy to see happen.

“I feel like people now a days need that, especially with all of the stuff going on with police departments and injustice,” Mazzie Harris, a UC Davis Freshman, said.

“At the most, people’s problems want to be acknowledged,” Jonathan Castorena, a UC Davis Junior, said. “I think acknowledging those problems and really trying to give some good feedback and listening to the community is at least one way to start.”

It’s an informal interaction, all in hopes of a more connected campus community.

“That’s really what they are trying to do, right? We want our community to feel that we are here to offer support to them in the ways that we can and in ways that are a better fit to them,” Du said.

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Officer Du hopes the program can grow from here and that she isn’t the first and last one to take on the helm.