Rutgers' Department of Public Safety, Student Affairs rolls out new campus safety initiatives

The Department of Public Safety is rolling out a new piece of mobile patrol equipment called a T3 utilized by police departments across the globe, from France to Los Angeles.

At Rutgers, Public Safety has thus far purchased one T3-- a three-wheeled electric stand-up vehicle used by public safety personnel that offers multiple benefits. 

“The (T3) provides greater visibility for the Public Safety employee that rides it,” said Police Chief Kenneth Cop. “They are able to cover a larger amount of area in a shorter amount of time.”

In France, the use of T3s reduced the incidence of violence and petty crime by 12 percent and increased coverage of patrol areas by 230 percent. Cop hopes the results will be similar at Rutgers. 

In a continuing effort to prevent crime on campus, Public Safety is also spearheading the College Avenue Priority Patrol.

The patrol consists of five to nine extra units on the College Avenue campus and in the 5th and 6th wards. These wards include areas from George Street to Somerset Street and around St. Peter’s Hospital.

The patrol is made up of police officers, security officers and public safety personnel that serve the 10,000 off-campus students at Rutgers. 

“The purpose of this patrol is crime prevention and service,” Cop said.

Student Affairs is also allocating $101,370 toward numerous new safety initiatives in collaboration with Public Safety. 

Two mobile security patrols are on duty as “the eyes and ears” of the 5th and 6th wards all week, Cop said. The patrols handle everything from noise complaints to serious safety hazards.

Public Safety has already seen an immediate, positive payback from having patrols in the 5th and 6th wards, said RUPD Captain Paul Fischer.

In the first week, security patrols intervened in a situation in which individuals were in medical distress, Fischer said. Ambulances arrived at the scene and transferred the individuals to the hospital.

“They’re riding around providing some of the services that we offer the community," Fischer said. "We’ve already had reports of folks not only thanking them for being out there, but coming to them for help.”

The patrols have made close to 600 community contacts, Cop said. Community contacts refer to members of the community that public safety personnel stop and speak with while on duty.

Security patrols also offer escort services, a service that Cop said is underutilized.

If a community members feel unsafe walking the streets, they can call a phone number to receive an escort. In addition, patrols are instructed to seek out consumers.

“They might see someone walking alone late, drive up and say ‘Hey, would you need or like a ride somewhere?’” Cop said.

The RUPD is continuing the Neighborhood Patrol Team in conjunction with the City of New Brunswick. A Rutgers police officer rides with a New Brunswick Police officer every night, Cop said.

“We respond to calls together and in many circumstances, it may be a call that involves a student,” Cop said. “... The more work we do together, the more trust we develop in one another.”

In addition to the New Brunswick Police Department, Public Safety has also collaborated with the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA). 

RUSA provided RUPD with a survey to determine where students want to see more public safety personnel. 

A vast majority of students who responded to the survey cited the College Avenue campus and off-campus areas as places that could use more public safety personnel. Though there is no Priority Patrol for other campuses, such as Douglass campus, patrol cars still circulate those areas. 

"We took (the survey) into account, and that's where we put (personnel) out," Cop said. 

In an effort to further get the message to the community, Cop met with the Parents Association last Monday to give a presentation on these new safety initiatives.

Despite these undertakings to improve campus safety, RUPD received criticism last week for not sending an email to alert students of the seven arrests made behind the College Avenue Gymnasium. 

But RUPD was not looking to hide the incident, Cop said. Because there was no ongoing threat to the community, Cop said there was no immediate need to send a crime alert.

“I think the lesson of that incident is that everything works," Cop said. "We had someone call it in. We had an immediate police response, we had seven suspects arrested and charged and our victim was not seriously injured."

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