Located on the ground floor of Huebeck, is the Office of Public Safety. To many, this is a safe haven and to some, unexplored territory. Established in 2007, Public Safety has worked to keep our campus safe through many programs and services. Now, 10 years later, they have made significant changes to campus, and have more in the works for the future. I sat down with Director David Heffer, to find out more!
Q: How long have you been director and how many officers make up the squad?
A: I have been the Director of Public Safety since August, 2015 [and] our force is made up of about 35 officers including full and part timers.
Q: What do you look for in an officer when you are hiring?
A: There are a number of factors that we look for when hiring public safety officers. Previous experience in public safety and customer service is helpful. We also look for individuals with positive attitudes who have a real passion for helping people. The office appreciates a diverse workforce and strives to sustain that diversity. The job of being a public safety officer is demanding both physically and mentally so we look for individuals who can make good decisions under difficult circumstances.
Q: What are some responsibilities of our officers?
A: We always have an officer at the gatehouse, the communications center, patrolling the residential side and the academic side of the campus. We also post an officer at the Athenaeum overnight. We do staff large planned events.
Q: What have been the recent changes to some of the campus resources and what has sparked them?
A: A number of changes have been made around campus including; closing off the pond and the back gate to vehicular traffic; inserting cameras into the blue emergency phones on campus to see the emergency; and the new app 911Shield.
Heffer has been “told that our user adoption rate (for 911Shield) is one of the highest of any type of this product in the country. Many campuses use this type of product but we utilize a system that mitigates some of the deficiencies we have with GPS location on campus by using Wi-Fi.”
Heffer brought me into his office and explained the app, and allowed me to test it out and see how it rings in the office and how my location can be detected no matter where I am. The hope is to never have to use this app, but, in the case of an emergency, I’ll be prepared.
Some other changes to the campus include face-to-face emergency training with new staff members to ensure their complete understanding and proficiency in emergency situations. Public Safety has also updated their website that lists services and also allows people to easily report concerns anonymously. There is also a new ID policy in place, where all persons are checked at the front gate (pedestrians and vehicles) after 8pm. The athenaeum goes through a full sweep every night at midnight by the officer on duty.
Students and their families have raised the concern that vehicles and pedestrians are not stopped at the gate house. According to Heffer, “We now have staff there 24 hours a day 7 days a week during academic session. Vehicles are stopped after 8pm every day of the week.”
Q: What are some public safety changes that are coming soon?
A: We hope to increase the number of cameras on campus as well as reconsider some of our traffic control patterns. We also actively monitor situations occurring on other college campuses as well as around the nation to identify issues that might impact us so that we can develop strategies to prevent and/or mitigate the impacts.
In response to a question about the connection between campus culture and safety, and there is no comment at this time.
To close, here are some programs and services offered by Public Safety:
They help run the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). They are the home of the famous Lost and Found. They provide support in emergencies.
Feel uncomfortable walking around campus? Call up Public Safety and they are happy to help out!
Lose that one card again? No worries! They can print you another!
Locked out again? Just call the office and they will be happy to help!
Register your vehicle!
Register your visitor!
Report incidents! They’ll go in the Q’s Public Safety Blotter, which can be found on the following page.