During my time here on campus, one of the bigger debates the last four years has involved the public safety department. I remember the push from administration to arm the force and the push back from some faculty against that. Luckily, the side favoring to arm campus police won out in that debate. Now, there seems to be another debate roaring on, although this one is much less talked about on campus.
Greg Allen did a great piece last week surrounding the off-campus house that was robbed at gunpoint. It is a scary story that shows that reminds us that even though we don’t think things like that could happen to us, it most certainly can. Also last week, I did a piece for SCTV3, which you can see online at scstudentmedia.com, about that same robbery. I talked to Pat Stefanski, a student who lives off-campus but not at that house, and obviously he was a little shaken up about the events that took place close by. One thing that he told me in our interview that stood out to me? He feels safer because of the steps taken by this campus, mainly because of Dr. Mary Beth Cooper’s work and the Springfield College Police Department.
One of those steps, arguably the biggest in my mind, has been beefing up police patrols on campus. There is now an extra cruiser that you will see driving around, and I’ve noticed a larger presence of officers on foot, and even on bikes. This confirmed for me earlier this week when I met with President Cooper and Greg Allen. You can read Greg’s piece next week and catch my TV segment tonight on SCTV3 at 8:00 on channel 3.2 here on campus.
Personally, I think this is a massive step forward for the school and a move that was long overdue. I view it as a win/win situation for students here. Listen, safety is the number one concern for the campus and for students alike. I’m not sure about you, but I feel a lot safer when I see officers patrolling the area. That doesn’t just go for Springfield; that goes for when I’m out and about in Boston and even when I’m home in suburban Woburn, Massachusetts.
Clearly, others feel the same way too. Stefanski told me last week that there is a sense of security knowing that more officers are patrolling the area and there is a stronger presence off campus on King Street and the surrounding area with cruisers and officers on bikes.
Let’s take a major school for example, say Northeastern University. For those of you unfamiliar with the school, it’s one of the premier universities in Boston. It also happens to be where my father was a police officer for many years, jumping all the way up to sergeant before he left the job for a quieter lifestyle. He would always mention to me when he came to Springfield that is was surprising how there wasn’t a presence of police on bikes and on foot. He’d also add that while at Northeastern, there was always ample patrols in cars, on foot and on bikes.
Luckily, Springfield has begun to take those steps. I can’t guarantee you will feel safer, but I can promise you I’ve talked to a number of students, not just one or two, and they told me that they feel safer with more officers patrolling this campus.
President Cooper has made great strides since taking over the campus, but her biggest victory might be in the safety department. She’s done some terrific work in this area, really too much to list off and stay on page two. Working with the campus police to add extra patrols in the form of on foot and in cruisers is a major step forward, a much needed one really.
Enhancing the public safety presence on campus truly is a win/win situation in my mind. Students both feel safer and are comfortable with this adjustment. In the end, isn’t that all that really matters?