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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
The COPS Office is pleased to feature the Mott Community College Department of Public Safety as the February 2018 winner of the Community Policing in Action Photo Contest. The winning photo features Lieutenant David Livingston tying the shoes of a young boy during a local Halloween event.
Mott Community College (MCC), located in Flint, Michigan, serves a transient population of approximately 10,000 students. With no on-campus dormitories, and seven satellite campuses throughout the state, students are always coming and going, which makes its public safety efforts so important.
The Mott Community College Department of Public Safety (DPS) is a full-service law enforcement agency of 25 sworn officers responsible for providing public safety support to students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the community college. Lieutenant David Livingston is one of those sworn officers. “I retired after 31 years with the City of Troy Police Department and just wasn’t done giving. I’ve been at Mott for what will be 6 years in April.”
Many of Livingston’s colleagues are also retired officers who love the profession so much that they have chosen to continue working. “It’s a wonderful department and everyone gets along great. Because many of us came from other departments, we know exactly what needs to be done. We’ve all had the same training and we know what to expect.”
The comradery shared among officers is extended to MCC students, faculty, and staff as the department aims not only to provide excellent service to the school, but also to establish positive relationships. The DPS’s mission statement is “… to prevent crime through collaboration and cooperation.” To achieve its mission, DPS officers are active and visible on, and off campus by participating in community-wide events and attending Neighborhood Watch meetings.
“Chief [Theresa Stephens-Lock] wants us to be out, walking the campus,” Livingston shared when asked how officers manage public safety challenges. “You want to get to know the people that you’re serving and you want them to get to know you. Get out there. Be seen. Be heard. Talk to people.” Livingston emphasized the importance of having positive interactions with the community to help counter some of the negative portrayals of law enforcement seen in the media. “We’re portrayed as villains and it’s not like that.”
Livingston loves to help people – it’s his main reason for becoming an officer 37 years ago. In the winning photo, Livingston (who did not know the photo was being taken) knelt down to tie a young boy’s shoe during a DPS-sponsored Halloween party held on the campus. The event provided a safe haven for children during Halloween, full of fun, games, and food. When Livingston noticed the little boy walking with his pizza and punch – and an untied shoelace – he did not think twice about tying it for him. “As a father, it’s just something that I did.”
That instinct and drive to help others is what keeps Livingston motivated. His positive energy and cheerful nature likely draws others to him – and makes his job a bit more fun. He enjoys joking and laughing with students, and even tries to recruit them whenever possible.
“Police work is a noble profession and I don’t think you hear that as often as you should,” he said with hopes that more people will want to become police officers in the future. “I stop people all the time. I’m always out recruiting. I’m always trying to build the profession.”
While the Flint community struggles to overcome challenges such as economic hardships and unsafe water conditions, officers like Livingston can help to provide a sense of stability and safety that is so important to communities. With a positive attitude and true love for his profession, Livingston hopes that his impact will help to change public perception of policing. “We’ve got to get back to being guardians, not warriors,” he shared. “Police officers – they’re a good bunch.”
The COPS Office congratulates the Mott Community College Department of Public Safety for being one of the 12 winners of the COPS Office 2018 Community Policing in Action Photo Contest, and for its commitment to community policing.
Written with contributions from Lieutenant David Livingston. Photo courtesy of the Mott Community College Department of Public Safety.
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