Student initiative leads to new look for Cowley College Student Patrol

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The Cowley College Student Patrol program has a new look, according to a press release from the college.

“Cowley College has a long-running and well-respected Criminal Justice Program,” the press release stated. “One unique aspect of this program is the Student Patrol. The Student Patrol program allows qualifying students to patrol the Winfield and Arkansas City business districts as well as Cowley’s main campus, working closely with local law enforcement agencies, performing security functions, and allowing them to apply what they are learning in the classroom.”

Cowley says students in the program have their own uniforms and patrol vehicles and have become a standard part of the local community, often serving the community in various support and security roles.

Beginning this semester, the look of those students will change for the first time in several years thanks to a student-led initiative.

Cowley said the program is constantly evaluated by its director, Frank Owens, as well as an advisory board comprised of several members of area criminal justice agencies; including Ark City and Winfield police chiefs, the Cowley County Sheriff, the Cowley County Attorney, a District Court Judge and several others.

“But perhaps one of the most important aspects in staying relevant and meeting stakeholder needs is listening to the students,” the college added. “Every year, the students in the program are asked what they would like to see added or changed in the program, and during the spring semester, the students indicated that they wanted to have a new look.”

Previously, students in the program had two uniforms that helped distinguish whether they were a freshman student or a sophomore. The freshman uniform was a more traditional uniform shirt, while sophomores had a more modern polo shirt for comfort, according to the press release.

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Following the COVID outbreak in 2020, funds were obtained that allowed students to start wearing a more modern external carrier vest that was reflective of most modern law enforcement agencies.

Students were allowed to explore options as long as they met two criteria: they had to find something that was unique and would not be mistaken for any local agencies, and the new plan had to save money.

After discussion and research, students made the formal suggestion for the new uniform that was reviewed and approved by Owens, Cowley said.

The new uniform will consist of a higher quality gray shirt with the department logo and utilize the current vests and pants. The uniform will be used by both freshmen and sophomores, eliminating the need for two uniforms.

All name tags and indicators of rank will be on the vests and allow for the longer use life of the shirts, allowing the students to have better quality gear and allowing the program to save money.

Owens said that he was happy with the effort that the students put into the project and loved the fact that the students came up with something professional and met the criteria they were given.

“Perhaps the best aspect of this is that the students actually feel like they have some buy-in or ownership of the program,” Owens said. “It’s great when they care enough that they want to improve it and can see their ideas actually come to fruition.”

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