By Danny Priest
New school years bring change – change among the student body, staff, faculty, and across multiple other areas of campus.
Springfield College is not immune to this change, but one area of the institution that typically flies under the radar more often than not is Public Safety. Just like everyone else, Public Safety has their own news updates and events going on, and they want students to be aware of them to begin the new academic year.
To start, the staff has added four new officers to their team this year. Per Sergeant Daniel Cotter, Springfield hired Officer Shannon Trybus, Officer Jenell Castro, Officer Luke Nierenhausen, and Officer Dylan Sullivan.
“We’re excited. They should all be wrapping up field training over the next couple weeks,” Cotter said of the new members of the staff. “So you’ll see them kind of using the buddy system, walking around with their field training officer.”
The new officers are wasting no time integrating themselves into the campus community. According to Cotter, Officers Trybus and Castro are working with the RA’s on campus to partner up and help get officers inside the residence halls.
The focus of their plan is not to get students in trouble by any means, but rather to help with their adjustment to college. The focus especially rests on first-year students to help familiarize them with Public Safety, and vice versa.
On top of the new staff, Public Safety has a variety of other events they are planning to roll out over the course of the year.
They are arranging to hold presentations on emergency preparedness and active shooters. This way the campus community will be prepared in the event of an emergency.
“The way I envision it will be kind of like an open forum,” Cotter said of the presentations. “I’ll do different dates and times for students, faculty, and staff; whenever it’s convenient for them. I’m hoping to do that at least two or three times throughout the course of the fall.”
Another issue the department is looking into is the crosswalks on campus, particularly the crosswalks on the corner of Wilbraham and Alden Street by Locklin Hall. This spot is one of the busiest on campus when classes get out, and students and faculty have to be aware of traffic when crossing the road.
“Right now we’re looking into some stuff at possibly getting that intersection altered to where it will have a button to be able to access the cross walk and everything,” Cotter said. Cotter did emphasize that any implementation of cross signal buttons would be years away from happening, due to the communication it would take between the school and the city, as well as figuring out logistical components of putting that technology in.
In the meantime, Public Safety has their eyes on it and is working on the situation.
“We actually have visibility posts that are out there right now that happen around the change of classes. We make sure our officers are staying cognizant of traffic, yielding to pedestrians that are properly in the crosswalk, especially in front of the Learning Commons and that intersection of Wilbraham and Alden,” Cotter said.
Perhaps the most exciting project Public Safety has in the works is the implementation of the Citizen’s Police Academy.
The Academy is an idea Cotter is bringing over from his time at Western New England University to help train individuals on some of the roles that come with being a police officer.
Cotter attended the Special State Police Academy in New Braintree, hosted by the Mass. State Police and after he graduated from the Academy, he attended Western New England to pursue his undergraduate degree.
It was during that time that he realized while his criminal justice classes were important and valuable, they did not fully translate to what he learned at the Academy.
So, Cotter created the Citizens Police Academy program at Western New England. The course is a total of 30 hours and stretches through a 10 week span of a semester. Typically his sessions were 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday nights, though that is not an official time for the program at Springfield.
“We did a ton of stuff. We did scenario motor vehicle stops, handcuffing, we did field sobriety testing,” Cotter said of the times they ran the course at Western New England.
“We do a class on drugs and all that stuff. It was a lot of fun. At Western New England, we actually had the state police come in for a K-9 demonstration as well. I’m really looking forward to it,” Cotter added.
While that’s set tentatively for the spring, Public Safety wants to make sure that in the immediate future, students have the Rave app installed on their phones.
According to Cotter, Rave has been updated to include contacts for all outlets on campus, and it is also the main point of contact for Public Safety for Springfield College students, in addition to the phone numbers.
As for the rest of what Public Safety does, they are all ears.
“We love being approached with ideas, RA’s, and any other staff that have stuff that they want us to do,” Cotter said. “We’re more than happy to help.”
Public safety can be reached for emergency at 413-748-5555 (Emergency Line) or 413-748-3516 (Non-Emergency Line).
Photo Courtesy Danny Priest