Public Safety

Iowa City Police debuts new civilian employee to bridge the gap between the department and the community

Daisy Torres, the Iowa City Police Department’s new community outreach assistant, listens to library development director Patty McCarthy as Torres gets tour of the Iowa City Public Library in Iowa City, Iowa, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Daisy Torres, the Iowa City Police Department’s new community outreach assistant, listens to library development director Patty McCarthy as Torres gets tour of the Iowa City Public Library in Iowa City, Iowa, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — The latest addition to the Iowa City Police Department doesn’t wear a uniform — at least not yet — or carry a gun, but the department is counting on her to make a big impact in the community.

Daisy Torres, 22, is the police department’s new community outreach assistant. Torres, a recent graduate from the University of Iowa, will be tasked with building relationships between the police department and the community.

“I want to get to the point where someone can approach me knowing that I’m not an officer, but if they need resources, I can help them get there,” Torres said.

Torres is just in her fourth week as the community outreach assistant, but already has been busy learning about divisions within the city offices and meeting with groups in the community. She said her goals for her first couple months include getting well-versed in resources offered by the city and getting an in-depth knowledge of community resources, as well.

The position is a natural one for Torres who, as a member of the Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, a multicultural sorority founded at UI, spent time working with Latinx-owned businesses within the city and volunteering at organizations such as Uptown Bills, Community and the Domestic Violence Intervention Program. Torres is building on those connections and fostering others in order to connect community members with resources.

“I want to make the biggest impact I can,” she said.

Torres already has begun doing programming at the Senior Center to help senior citizens from falling victim to online scams. She’s also working with undocumented citizens in Iowa City in order to connect them to community resources.

“Some communities are a bit nervous about the police department in general,” Torres said. “They assume (the police) are associated with (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and that’s not the case. So, I’m just kind of clearing up some of those myths.”

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Iowa City Police Sgt. Derek Frank said that’s exactly the sort of work the police department has envisioned for Torres.

“There are members of the community and organizations, people with different backgrounds, that either don’t have a positive image or don’t necessarily feel comfortable speaking with police,” he said. “We hope she’ll be able to bridge that gap.”

Going forward, Torres will continue meeting with different organizations as a representative of the police department. When appropriate, she’ll bring in uniformed officers to help strengthen bonds between community groups and the police department. Frank said the police department has empowered Torres to make the position her own and do what she sees fit to foster relationships.

“Whatever she can bring to the table is what we want to see happen,” he said.

Torres said her new position already has people in the community excited about the opportunity to build new relationships with the police department.

“I’ve liked the fact that I’ve gotten to meet so many people and they’re excited about someone being in this position.”

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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