SWAT bridges gap between students, law enforcement

Officially referring to a club of students who might go beyond the normal bounds of enforcing the rules and reporting suspicious student activity as S.W.A.T could be a little unsettling.  Fortunately enough, the acronym stands for Safe Wildcat Action Team.

The organization is advised by Officer Tommy Wooten, and the whole basis behind the program is to try to bring students closer to the understanding of law and enforcement.

“SWAT is for the group of students who are interested in law, student safety, and working with me and the administration on releasing safety information to the student body,” said Officer Wooten.

Lately, the club members have been helping distribute the information regarding AT&T’s initiative to discourage texting and driving along with general information that students sometimes need to be reminded of – like seatbelt awareness.

As a jumpstart fundraiser, SWAT recently participated in selling premium parking spots north of the Bulldog Stadium at the Har-Ber vs. Bentonville football game, which are not usually available.  Each spot cost $5, and the organization received half of the profits.  By the end of the night they hand raised more than $500.

Throughout the year, SWAT plans on possibly continuing this fundraiser during the season for the larger games such as the eminent Har-Ber vs. Springdale, as the availability for those parking spaces only open up where overflow is expected.

Officer Wooten also plans on converging fundraising with connecting the student body.  They are in the process of designing t-shirts for safety campaigns that are not only targeted to SWAT members, but the student body as well.

“We could even print extras specifically for the purpose of throwing them to the student section at home games,” said Officer Wooten. “We could possibly even throw some from the rotunda during passing periods.”

SWAT is also a way for students to connect with the law in a positive way and become more educated on the position of law enforcers, why laws are the way they are, and reasons why police officers on occasion may be in the position to override them. 

“It’s a way for me to connect with students in a positive way,” said Officer Wooten.  “When it comes to students specifically, the [police] uniform has an image that is not always good – such as taking away freedoms or charging money for disregarding laws.”