Police have new presence in Hilltop Cafeteria

Sodexo unable to curb food thefts on their own

Cynthia Majewski, Riverview Cafe supervisor, has seen an increase in misbehavior. - Submitted

Cynthia Majewski, Riverview Cafe supervisor, has seen an increase in misbehavior. – Submitted

Story by Glen Olson, Staff Writer

Students eating at upper-campus’ Riverview Cafe will now see the occasional police patrol through the cafeteria, the most recent response to students taking out large amounts of food.

Lieutenant Jay Dobson said in the agreement between University Police and Sodexo, officers not currently on calls or other police activities will stop in during busier hours and monitor the situation in the cafeteria to provide extra support for the Sodexo staff.

He said there is no set times or schedules for the visit and no set amount of time for the police to be in the area.

“We’re a service-oriented department,” Dobson said. “And that’s kind of the beauty about campus policing. It’s not all about strict law enforcement; it can be about providing a service.”

Dobson said they have not had any incidents reported while an officer is present, and from what he knew, the problem is decreasing.

He said the police’s presence there was deemed necessary because the staff’s attempts to stop people they noticed taking large amounts of food or utensils had been met with hostility or dismissed altogether.

Dobson said any theft under $100 constitutes petty theft, which the food would be categorized as, and the cafeteria is in a campus building and under the jurisdiction of the campus police.

Casey Utke, sophomore, said he heard about the police’s presence but hadn’t seen them directly.

Utke said he thought it was unfortunate, but it seemed necessary if the students can’t govern themselves.

“I believe they shouldn’t have to,” Utke said. “College students should be old enough to know better, but it keeps happening, so it makes sense that they’re taking measures.”

Utke said the belief among some students saying they’re paying for the food they take seems inaccurate, because they’re really only paying for what they eat in the building.

Cynthia Majewski, Riverview Cafe supervisor, said this year has had more problems with people not following food service policies than in the past.

Majewski said many of the problems going on have stopped now, but the police provide an extra authority.

“It’s just to make them really think twice about things,” Majewski said.

Dobson said the police are not receiving any kind of overtime or charging Sodexo to be in the cafeteria, nor are they assigning particular officers to the duty.

He said because it’s not assigned or scheduled, there are days no officer will be in there and there are days when there may be more than one who visit.

Dobson said there is no extra cost to the university to do this, and that it is “just like any other law enforcement agency in the community that they serve, just helping out where we can.”