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UWPD Downtown liaison officer starts patrols

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Lema Hernandez

MADISON (WKOW) -- A new officer is watching over the UW-Madison off-campus community.

It comes months after Madison police announced the Langdon Street Neighborhood Officer would be removed because of ongoing under-staffing.

UWPD announced they would fill that gap and expand their coverage over several blocks.

"I don't have issues over by where I live on Dayton street, but I've heard about issues by Langdon more than anything," UW Madison Junior Emily Shiffer said.

She says she was disappointed when the Madison Police Langdon Street officer position went away.

Now, UWPD has a new community officer to help make up for that.

"It's for me to be an advocate and a partner with the downtown community and really bridge that gap with the downtown and the police department," Officer Diego Lema Hernandez, said.

He has been with UWPD for more than 4 years as a patrol officer.

On Thursday, he started his new role as the Downtown Liaison officer.

"Really hit the ground running, attending meetings getting to know the community, getting to know the stakeholders, the students," he said.

Officer Lema Hernandez says the position was not meant to replace the former Langdon Street officer.

While Langdon street is a focus of his, it's not the only area he's going to cover.

The coverage area will be in places downtown where students live and spend their time outside of class.

"We had officers on campus that we knew pretty well especially in our residence hall buildings we had specific officers," Shiffer said. "Having one that we can use for off campus would be really helpful especially because the majority of students my age live off campus."

Lema Hernandez says he will have a broad range of responsibilities.

"I can be their go to person for any concerns needs, programming, events anything really that the community is lacking that they can reach out to us for," he said.

However, the Madison police department will continue to be the main agency responsible for 9-1-1 calls and crimes.

UWPD originally hoped to have this position filled in November to overlap with the outgoing MPD officer.

It took longer because they wanted to incorporate students in the decision-making process.

Lema Hernandez hopes to connect with the previous officer for guidance.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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