University of Iowa students are helping the Iowa City Police Department with Downtown patrols.

Eight students are participating in a public safety pilot program called SHOUT, or Students Helping Out, overseen by the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety, with an overall goal of enhancing student safety.

Student ambassadors are trained in bystander intervention, and equipped with a police radio and body camera. Four are stationed Downtown during some of its busiest hours – Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., two on foot and two in a vehicle.

SHOUT students are easy to spot in bright orange shirts, and are trained to assist in several Downtown specific scenarios, including helping someone who may be lost, or who needs a safe ride home.

“It’s been a win-win for everybody so far,” Iowa City Police Chief Jody Matherly said. “Our officers now have an additional tool to use to help folks who may be separated from their group, or who are becoming too intoxicated.”

The program is also helping keep Iowa City and University police officers free to respond to more critical situations. Though officers are available to assist if there is an immediate safety concern, they will not be called by SHOUT ambassadors for minor infractions.

The SHOUT program is part of a larger community policing strategy that allows students to play a more active role in making their campus community safe.

“The students really enjoy it,” University of Iowa Public Safety Director Scott Beckner said. “They feel like they are making a difference and they are helping people make decisions, so they can avoid becoming a victim of a crime or do something that may result in arrest.”

SHOUT may also help alleviate overcrowding at the Johnson County Jail.

“This is another initial intercept point to potentially divert people from jail that may not need to come,” Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said.

In addition to patrolling Downtown, SHOUT Ambassadors will provide their services for student sponsored events, and help students download the Rave Guardian mobile application, which allows students to select a virtual guardian, send anonymous tips to police, and call police using a panic button. For more details on the app, visit:

To learn more about the SHOUT program, visit

Date of publication

Thursday, October 12, 2017