In early 2020, Police Officer Diego Lema Hernandez was selected from a handful of internal candidates to take the role of UWPD’s very first Downtown Liaison Office. Students who reside in the areas that this community officer position will serve were also part of the selection process.
Officer Lema Hernandez has been with the UW-Madison Police Department for nearly four years. He was born in Uruguay, South America and moved to Wisconsin when he was six years old. His passion is community policing and community engagement – he’s actively involved with a variety of community events and organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Special Olympics.
In late October 2019, UWPD announced plans to create a new UWPD Downtown Liaison Community Officer position to serve our off-campus student population – particularly in the Langdon and State Street areas. Similar to our other Community Officers, the Downtown Liaison Community Officer will work to engage with students and other campus partners, connect students with necessary resources, and provide a link between UWPD and the City of Madison Police Department police response in this area. While the primary jurisdiction and call-for-service response for these areas will remain with the City of Madison, the UWPD Downtown Community Liaison Officer will have the ability to exercise specific enforcement authority as appropriate – but will primarily focus efforts on building relationships, providing advocacy, and serving as an additional resource dedicated to promoting safety in our off-campus community.
This new position was not in reaction to MPD’s decision to end their Langdon Street Neighborhood Officer position – however, we expect this new UWPD role will help fill some of the gaps that departure created.
“I feel like this is a role that I’ve been preparing for my entire life,” Officer Lema Hernandez said. “Community policing is a true passion of mine, and I can’t wait to start this new journey and work with our off-campus community.”