Criminal Justice Students Make Impact on Community through Volunteering

Criminal Justice student at 'Night to Unite'

Zachary Wycuff, a graduating senior in the Criminal Justice program, has led a group of Criminal Justice freshmen in working to put together the “Night to Unite” event. Wycuff first learned about this annual event during his freshman year through the Learning Communities and First Year Experience program.  During his sophomore year, he became a Peer Leader of a Criminal Justice Learning Community and chose to continue with the event. 

To put on the event, the UC Criminal Justice students work with the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) to plan an afternoon with the kids at the Lincoln Community Recreation Center in downtown Cincinnati.  This year, the CPD brought a police cruiser, Segway, motorcycle, and a drug dog to the event in order to engage the kids and to provide a positive interaction with the police officers.  “I think it’s extremely valuable for children to see police officers in a positive way, and not just as bad men who are out to get them,” says Wycuff.  This collaboration, with officers offering general safety tips and playing with the kids, encourages them to come to the police when they are in trouble. 

CPD Officer playing games at 'Night to Unite'

At this year’s event, approximately 100 children and parents attended, as well as 35 first-year students from different Criminal Justice Learning Communities and four members of the CPD.  UC faculty Sue Bourke, Lauren Bosselait, Samantha Walker, and Shane Blaney were also very involved in organizing the event.  Their support was crucial to the success of Night to Unite.  This is the sixth year for this event, with Wycuff being involved in four of those years.  He stated about this year’s event, “Even though the event might have seemed like a small thing to the Criminal Justice Students, we can make a big impact on the community by just volunteering a little time and effort.  This event means that the Cincinnati Police believe in the community they protect, and are taking positive steps forward to earn the trust of the citizens they serve.  Seeing a child run up and hug an officer makes me feel like we did something worthwhile.” 

Last year, Channel 12 News reported on the event.  See the story, where they interviewed Wycuff and the CPD officer in charge of the event below.