LEAP Leads: Day One

September 7, 2021

Jessica Cuevas

The newly selected LEAP LEADs group had their first meeting of the semester at the Sam Houston Walker Education Center. LEAP LEADs is a program designed to help connect students with the community and to assist in developing our professional and social skills through engagement in diverse opportunities.

In this meeting, we had the pleasure of hosting Officer Butterworth from the Sam Houston University Police Department

…who gave us advice on how to interact with an officer through a couple of different simulations, where students volunteered.

Before Officer Butterworth arrived, each one of us introduced ourselves to the group and shared what we hope to get out of this program. In LEAP, we are always open to new experiences, whether it may be trying new foods or restaurants, and cultures through art, music, etc.–which ties in perfectly with dinner that evening since we had a Salvadorian Cuisine from El Carbonero. The plates varied from chicken, beef tacos, plantains, rice, charro beans, Cajun pasta, pupusas, and cheese enchiladas. It was a delightful cuisine and potentially a first timer for many of us.

Upon Officer Butterworth’s arrival, Professor Yawn…

…passed the baton to him to help us answer and inform us more about the law enforcement agencies in Huntsville. As a collective group, we were able to name a few such as UPD, HPD, Parks & Wildlife (state & federal in Huntsville), Sheriff and Deputies, Constables, and TDCJ – Prison Patrol. Office Butterworth then filled in the rest of the existing law enforcement agencies in Huntsville which include the Walker County Environmental cop (in charge of sewage, littering, etc.), the District Attorney and investigators, Texas Ranger (one left in Huntsville), Child Protection Services, and Fire Marshalls. Officer Butterworth, an alumni from Sam Houston State University, has been a cop in Huntsville since 2012 and has been involved with LEAP for over five to six years now.  

The main topics that Officer Butterworth discussed with us were public intoxication, driving under the influence, minor possession-contribution, and noise complaints.

These happen to be the most common issues that the UPD deals with when it comes to college students. When educating us about what it means to be a minor in possession, such a charge may involve a student simply guarding or holding a cup for a friend while they go to the restroom. For the other topics he had students volunteer in a scenario where a student has been pulled over.

For this scenario, Mario Ocampo volunteered and answered questions such as what you would do if a police officer turned on their lights? Where would you pull over? What to do while you wait for the officer to approach you? And such.

Another scenario that he presented to us were different types of field sobriety tests, such as the heel to toe walk and keeping one leg above the ground. Two of the LEAP Leads members, Madison Brashear, and Yvette Mendoza, volunteered to do a mock field sobriety test. Now, you would think that it was to be easily done except they did all of this with a twist, they had “beer goggles” on!

Meanwhile they volunteered to do the field sobriety tests, the rest of us watched and got to witness what Officers see when they pull over someone who is intoxicated, and it was amusing to see!

On behalf of LEAP LEADs I would like to thank Officer Butterworth for coming to speak to us and doing so in an interactive way through Q&As and “simulations.” We learned a lot about police interactions and their way of thinking as they approach a situation as I am sure Officer Butterworth learned from us about the student’s point of view. Thank you to Officer Butterworth for keeping our campus and community safe!

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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