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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Red tag: UA marketing students to bridge the communication divide between law enforcement and students

Tom Price
A University of Arizona Police Department car sits just off of Park Ave. on Oct. 1, 2015.

UA marketing students are working to compete nationally to restore trust in the justice system by inviting students to look beyond the badge and red tag a cop car.

One UA marketing class is participating in a national advertising campaign competition hosted by EdVenture Partners and this year’s theme for the competition is the Department of Justice. The goal for the campaign is to foster trust among community members and those within the justice system.

Mataya VandenBerge, a marketing senior, is the head of the Beyond the Badge project. The program’s goal is to showcase the dedication of those in law enforcement and encourage UA students to take a look beyond the badge of police officers and others associated with the law.

“Specifically with our Red Tag Event, we really wanted to create a fun, open atmosphere that draws people on campus to come and check out what we’re doing,” VandenBerge said.

Students will have the opportunity to “red tag” a cop car on the UA mall by writing questions and comments for the University of Arizona Police Department officers on a red sticky note and placing it on the squad car.

Students have the option to leave their contact information or remain anonymous.

The inspiration for the project’s name came from the group’s goal for others to see that police officers are more than just a badge, according to Katelyn Pollard, a marketing junior. Pollard is in charge of the campaign’s social media presence for the competition.

“It’s more than a badge,” Pollard said. “They’re actual people.”

VandenBerge said she hopes to create buzz on the Mall on Wednesday and pique the interest of some students as they walk around campus.

“When someone walks by and sees the cop car full of red tags, which is something that has a negative connotation, we hope they’ll stop and ask, ‘What’s that?’” VandenBerge said. “We’re trying to take the negative connotation from red tags and make it positive by having their questions answered.”

VandenBerge said they’ll also have a photo booth, prizes and snacks at the event. Beyond the Badge will also host a law enforcement panel on Thursday where students can ask questions and get time to get to know the officers one-on-one.

One reason there’s not a lot of trust in the justice system, according to Pollard, is because of miscommunication between students and law enforcement.

“If students are just able to ask questions and leave comments, it opens the floor for communication and it allows barriers to be broken down and questions to be answered,” she said.

Pollard said she thinks it’s important to hold events like Beyond the Badge on campus because she feels students can sometimes get caught up in the way the media portrays the justice system.

“It’s so easy to focus on the negative and forget about all the good that the Department of Justice does for us,” Pollard said.

Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos thinks community members should realize those who carry a badge are just like everyday people.

“We’re human beings too,” Nanos said. “We have families. We enjoy going out to events, whether it be a football game or a basketball game, or going to a bar and getting a beer with friends.”

Nanos said it’s important for law enforcement to connect with not only college students but the rest of the community as well. Nanos said the uniform can be intimidating and create a barrier.

“I think once people come and talk to us, they realize just how unintimidating [we] are,” Nanos said.

Follow Amanda Oien on Twitter.

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