Hawkeye uses new Iowa City police position to connect authorities, community

UI alum Daisy Torres works in a role that the Iowa City police redesigned to better focus on community outreach and community connections.

Iowa+City+Police+Department+Community+Outreach+Assistant+Daisy+Torres+poses+for+a+portrait+in+the+Robert+A.+Lee+Recreation+Center+on+Wednesday%2C+October+30%2C+2019.+Daisy+Torres+was+recently+promoted+to+the+position+after+serving+in+the+student+run+Department+of+Public+Safety.+

Tate Hildyard

Iowa City Police Department Community Outreach Assistant Daisy Torres poses for a portrait in the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center on Wednesday, October 30, 2019. Daisy Torres was recently promoted to the position after serving in the student run Department of Public Safety.

Rachel Steil, News Reporter

In her office between the gym and the ping-pong tables, the new Iowa City police Community Outreach Assistant Daisy Torres works in an office at the Robert A. Lee Community Rec Center behind a door covered in welcome decorations.

The police recently revamped a previous position as the community outreach assistant to improve the department’s relationship with community members, including working closely with groups who may be apprehensive of the police. A little over a month ago, Torres joined the Iowa City police to build and refocus this position.

“[The new position] is more focused on community and organization collaboration,” Torres said.

Iowa City police public-information officer Sgt. Derek Frank said the position used to be a combination of a community service officer and a community outreach assistant. However, the department has since decided it’s time to rethink the purpose of the position.

“We wanted to really focus on making connections in the community, building relationships in the community, and the marketing of the police department,” Frank said.

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As a nonsworn officer, Torres serves as a link between the police department and the Iowa City community. Torres’ responsibilities include representing the department at community events and meetings, managing social media, and developing connections and trust between police and civilians.

“They have given me the go-ahead to make the position what I want,” Torres said. “I always try to fill [the day] up with different community events or meeting with different people.”

Torres said sometimes people are more receptive to a nonsworn officer who is out of uniform — which can make the concept of police less intimidating.

“I try to highlight the different services the [police department] has,” Torres said. “I will get [the community’s] information back to the people who need to see it and hear about it.”

Torres said she is committed to clearing up any uncertainty about what the police department provides for Iowa City. Torres said various communities can perceive the department in different ways.

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“There is still this hesitation toward police,” Torres said. “I have gotten to work with a few immigrant communities now, and some of them have past experiences with the police or law enforcement in their countries where they are more soldier-like or militaristic.”

Before assuming the role of community outreach assistant for the Iowa City police, Torres attended the University of Iowa and worked as a student security officer with the UI Public Safety Department. She also interned with the Iowa City police.

“[Torres] was a very good leader, great work ethic,” UI Public Safety Department Security Supervisor Beau Hartsock said. “We knew she was going to do something special when her college career was done.”

Joseph Cress
Then-UI sophomore Daisy Torres patrols as a student security officer for the UI police on early Saturday morning, Feb. 18, 2017.

Torres said her time as a student security officer at the UI prepared her for her new position with the Iowa City police.

“A lot of the experiences I got [at the UI] really helped,” Torres said. “I worked a lot on my people skills and networking in general.”

Frank said Torres brings connections and a diverse perspective to the table. He added that Torres will help the police department foster healthy relationships within Iowa City’s diverse population.

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“The thing that really jumped out to me and to [the Iowa City police] when we did the interview process and things that we learned when she was an intern [with the Iowa City police] was all the connections that she already has in the community and with the school,” Frank said.

Both Frank and Hartsock expressed pride in Torres’ accomplishments. Frank said Torres has hit the ground running and Hartsock said it has been rewarding to see Torres grow.

“[The position] has been fun,” Torres said. “It is definitely fulfilling so far.”

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