Simmons murder sparks Topeka Police liaison program at Washburn

Washburn University teams up with City of Topeka to improve public safety following student murder

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Following the murder of Washburn football player Dwane Simmons, Topeka Police are partnering with Washburn teams to stop crimes in the area.

The Topeka Police said the idea is to be proactive about preventing crime instead of just reactive about investigating it. That’s why they’ve connected with teams on the Washburn campus; to create a relationship that can help do that.

The department partnered four officers with the university as liaisons, specifically reaching out to teams on campus. Sergeant Dan Wilson leads the new program.

“As a young adult you think you’re invincible and you see something like that happen, some of them were there that night and they know what reality is, unfortunately,” Wilson said.

Officer Wilson is a former Washburn football player himself. The other liaisons Officer Derek Parrett, Officer Bryan Stricklin, and Officer Derek Child were also former athletes. So part of their goal is to show Washburn’s athletes they aren’t so different.

“We’re not just there to take them to jail or write them tickets. We’re also people. A lot of us, like I said, are former athletes. All of us have been in those shoes,” Wilson said.

Hopefully, those relationships will translate into real change.

“To lower crime by people reporting crime a little bit easier, people reaching out to us, people waving us down in the street when they see something happen,” Stricklin said.

“I think it’s a proactive approach to things. We’re not just sitting back and waiting for something to happen,” Parrett said. “We want to get out here with Washburn PD and be that contact point before something does happen.”

“The end result, we want our guys and girls at Washburn to be able to live 3 to 4 blocks from school, to be able to walk to and from day and night. And that’s the way it should be,” Washburn Football Coach Craig Schurig said.

So far the liaison team has met with two teams on campus but they said the goal is to connect with as many as possible.

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