Inside Higher Ed recently listed the top eight concerns that college students have about safety on campuses. We sat down with Millersville University Police Chief, Pete Anders, to see how the ‘Ville addresses those concerns.
Q. Do Millersville police have enough of a campus presence?
Our police officers embrace community engagement and problem-solving at the core of their mission. Our students are our community, and we seek to interact positively with them toward their overall success. Our students and visitors will observe our officers patrolling campus not only in marked vehicles but also on bicycle and on foot. Our officers stop by daily events on campus and sponsor activities like coffee with the cops, cornhole with the police, the student police academy, and partner in events like Breast-A-Ville, Green Dot, and safety events on campus. We promote LiveSafe, our campus safety app, as an easy and quick way to interact with officers and request calls for service, such as suspicious activity on campus or unlocking or jump-starting a vehicle.
Q. Does MUPD have enough officers?
Our administration has prioritized providing a safe environment for students, and we have a diverse group of three patrol sergeants and nine officers who cover campus 24/7. As a rule during the academic semesters, we have at least two officers working 24/7. We prioritize training in community policing and specialized training in crisis intervention response. Our officers’ response time to emergencies on campus is normally within a minute or two of dispatch, and our officers will frequently assist with emergency calls in off-campus student housing areas.
Q. Are there dark pathways on campus?
Our officers report when lights are out on campus and participate in evening safety walks. MU has cut back trees, added lighting and identified areas to improve visibility during the evening. Our students frequently use LiveSafe for nighttime peer-to-peer Safewalks. The Safewalk feature works both on and off campus. Students can request a patrol officer escort should they have a particular safety concern on campus. Patrol officers will meet the student and walk them to their destination.
Q. Does Millersville put enough attention on sexual assault?
I feel our department takes a lead with education and prevention of sexual assault and provides victim/survivor-centered responses with investigations. Students and guests can report a sexual assault to police and simply have the incident documented or choose to have the incident investigated. Our officers work closely with the Lancaster District Attorney’s Office with any investigation. A reporting student or guest is provided with resources for health and counseling both on and off campus. I and several of our officers have trained in Green Dot, a training program that promotes bystander intervention to potential power-based violence like sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. We find our students continue a tradition and culture of looking out for each other at the ‘Ville.
Q. What about the lack of physical barriers between campus and the surrounding community?
Millersville University is a public university that allows visitors to enjoy our local walkways and visiting the swans at the pond. We are regularly ranked as one of the safest college towns and campuses in the state and country. While we have strategically placed bollards (posts) and fencing in some areas to control vehicle and pedestrian access, we do not have plans to become a gated university.
Q. How easy is it to get into buildings on campus?
We have access control to many buildings on campus, including all the residence halls, the library and the Student Memorial Center, which allows these buildings to be closed to anyone without permission. Millersville University is evaluating the cost of putting entrances to most academic and business buildings on card access as well as directions for visitors who wish to visit a building or office on campus.
Q. Do you believe we have enough security cameras?
Millersville University has over 500 surveillance cameras on campus and at the Lancaster Ware Center for the community’s safety.
Q. What are your thoughts on crosswalks on campus?
Our officers talk with students and employees about driver and pedestrian safety on campus. Facilities regularly repaint crosswalks, and this fall, the University reopened with crosswalk beacons at the intersection of W. Frederick St. and Shenks Lane. The University works with Millersville Borough on safety considerations on the roadways that bisect the University. University police will also assist students and employees with crossing during peak walking times as the officers are available.
Information on the LiveSafe App can be found here.
You can sign up for MU Alert here.
The Inside Higher Ed article is available online – https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/07/15/eight-student-safety-concerns-and-how-colleges-can-help-infographic