Maria Sanchez appointed as UI Department of Public Safety’s second community outreach officer

As a Hispanic female, Sanchez is uniquely positioned to advocate for marginalized communities and help the department reach more people, she said. She will join Officer Alton Poole in community outreach, who welcomes the help of a second mind.


Justin Torner - Staff Photograph

Contributed photo of Maria Sanchez.

Colin Votzmeyer, News Reporter

Officer Maria Sanchez has been appointed as the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety’s second community outreach officer.

According to a UI Department of Public Safety Q&A with Sanchez, she joined the department in 2018 as a patrol officer and started her new position this fall.

Sanchez is from West Liberty, Iowa, and graduated from the UI with a degree in Spanish and a minor in human relations.

She said she decided to return to the UI because she wanted to challenge herself by working for both law enforcement and higher education.

“I know if I would’ve gone to a different agency, I would never have the opportunity to go above and beyond what law enforcement is all about,” Sanchez said in an interview with The Daily Iowan.

In the Q&A, Sanchez said the community outreach officers provide safety training, crime prevention information, and security surveys of campus buildings to “bridge the gap between our department and other departments on campus and develop relationships with students, faculty, and staff” as well as “to make students aware that we exist, and that we approach our role differently.”

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Sanchez said she is uniquely positioned for this role because she is a female Spanish speaker, which she said she can utilize to accommodate more people and advocate for marginalized communities.

“That’s, more than anything, why I’m interested in being part of this office under Officer Poole,” Sanchez said. “When you just enjoy doing things, it’s not a job.”

Officer Alton Poole is the UI Department of Public Safety’s second community outreach officer and described Sanchez’s work as tenacious and compassionate.

“She was just a natural, engaging the general public, and she was very enthusiastic when it came time to do charity for marginalized communities and the homeless,” Poole said. “It’s nice to see officers take initiative and go above and beyond their patrol duties, and that’s exactly what she did.”

Poole said appointing Sanchez to the role will also help the department mirror the diversity of the community it serves. According to the UI Office of the Registrar, 19.5 percent of people enrolled at the UI identified as a minority this fall.

Poole said it was disheartening telling people he was unavailable, but with Sanchez, they can “spread [their] wings and reach more people.”

“It’s always good when you have more than one mind coming up with ideas,” Poole said. “It actually broadens our ability to reach out and communicate when we have more than one person.”

Mark Bullock, assistant vice president and director of the UI Department of Public Safety, wrote in an email to the DI that it has become apparent how many groups across the UI community they need to connect with, and the capacity of one person alone cannot achieve their goals.

“[Sanchez] has been doing this work in her role as a patrol officer for the last four years, and we’re excited for what she’ll bring to this position with a full-time focus on community outreach, relationship building, and crime prevention,” Bullock wrote.

Bullock wrote the addition of Sanchez will help the community as a whole.

“We are proud of what we’ve done so far and excited to expand the community outreach team so students, faculty, and staff can have increased access to our safety services and resources,” Bullock wrote.