The new FAU PD liaison

Michael Cairo talks about his position and how he hopes to build dialog between university police and students


Photo by Kiki Baxter | Managing Editor

Student Government’s recent partnership initiative to improve relations with FAUPD included appointing a new liaison between SG and the police. The University Press sat down with Michael Cairo to discuss his new role.

UP: What prompted Student Government to appoint a liaison to the University Police?

CAIRO: Well it’s actually been written in the statute before, but it’s been kind of neglected the past couple of years. So it’s always been around, but it was kind of something we wanted to bring back to the House and Speaker Ferreira thought it would be a good idea to appoint me and I couldn’t be happier to have it.

UP: What is the Police Liaison’s job?

CAIRO: Just to keep an open line of communication between the FAUPD and House of Representatives, mainly Student Government. What we really do is just think of ways to involve students in certain things, to bring the police and the student body closer together.

We collaborated on a bill with the police department to bring Smartwater CSI to our school. I’m not really here to enforce the laws, that’s their [FAUPD] job. We want students to know that the police are here to help you, not frighten you.

We just want to make sure that there’s no animosity between the student body and police. We don’t want the students to go out of control and have the police department step in, but at the same token, we don’t want the police department to kind of start heavily overseeing everybody.

UP: How much does a Police Liaison get paid?

CAIRO: I’m not getting paid at all. I do Student Government out of my own time because I’m genuinely interested in SG and I think that in light of certain events involving police officers, I just really wanted to learn more about both sides of the situation. I want to see the police perspective.

UP: How long have you been in this role?

CAIRO: I was appointed at the end of last session and unfortunately we haven’t gotten started with this particular session just yet, so we haven’t really been able to do things. But I have been in correspondence with Chief Lowe and Speaker Ferreira and other people in Student Government to come up with some ideas and I’m really excited to put them into practice.

UP: Are you aware of any tensions between FAUPD and the students that you plan to address?

CAIRO: Chief Lowe and I have been in correspondence, and we haven’t really seen any major specific problems between the student body and the FAUPD at all.

One of the main things we spoke about was the stigma and hostility between citizens and the police department in response to extreme cases, such as Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York across the country, not just at FAU.  He and I both agree that there really isn’t a palpable hostility between FAU students and the FAUPD.

However, we are conscious of the way that students feel about police officers, in general, and we’ve been coming up with ideas that will provide opportunities for the students and police officers to become more personally familiar with one another. The men and women of the FAUPD sought careers in law enforcement so that they can help people, and we want to remind the students of that.

UP: What other efforts are being made to build the relationship between FAUPD and the student body?

CAIRO: Well, the House session is just getting started now and that’s one of the places in SG where student body events will be planned and executed through, so I can’t give you specific details just yet.

But I can tell you that Chief Lowe, myself and other representatives have spoken about one event in particular in which students will have the opportunity to ask the FAUPD any questions or concerns that they may have about the law, kind of like an open forum somewhere on campus.

Again, details and logistics have yet to be set in stone, so I can’t provide you with any specifics at this time, however, I will make sure that we promote it as effectively as possible.  We live in a great country that gives us amazing rights as citizens and we want to make sure that students are aware of their rights and that they understand them fully.

UP: How are you going to assist in the transparency of the FAUPD?

For example, the UP reported in October that FAU failed to report a month’s worth of crimes on their online blotter, yet keeps their physical blotter up-to-date, which students do not have access to.

CAIRO: Chief Lowe and I haven’t spoken about that specific issue, however I’ll be happy to address it the next time we meet.