SGA talks campus safety

Feeling a sense of a safety on campus is a project that two university groups — the Student Government Association (SGA) and University Police — are working on this semester.

The new police chief, Jason Willis, introduced himself to members during the SGA meeting’s open session and provided a time for questions and answers.

“Whatever the students need, we should provide the services,” Willis told the student leaders. He said he wants to see the NKU Police do more to help students with their concerns besides keeping them safe. “My philosophy is if you need our help, we’re gonna help you.”

But keeping students safe and helping them feel safe is still the main goal.

“I want to be very visible; I want our officers to be accessible,” Willis shared. He added that he hopes to see officers do more foot patrols around campus and to interact more with students. He also said he wants to get away from the image some students have that the police officers just sit in their cars in the backs of parking lots, even if that was not the case. “I think the NKU Police Department is a great bunch of officers. I just think we need to get out there and be a little more visible.”

He also wants to hear more of student concerns about safety. Willis is planning to create a student advisory board for the Department of Pubic Safety (DPS) in the near future.

“This is your community and all the best ideas would come from you in the first place,” he said.

Additionally, he said he assigned Sergeant Will Love to coordinate the officers to work with specific student constituency groups. Clubs and organizations should expect to have an officer reaching out to them soon, but not because they are in trouble.

During the questions and answer session, a senator asked whether or not having officers work out of the DPS office on Johns Hills Road during the overnight shift is a good idea and, instead, suggested having an officer on duty in the residential village.

Willis said there is currently a substation in the other housing center at Callahan Hall, and that he hopes officers will utilize their “mobile police stations,” meaning their police vehicles, to be visible all across campus during their shifts.

“We have a lot of commuters and we need to be visible in those lots if they are studying late, have class late or are walking back to our cars,” he said.

He indicated that adding another officer specifically assigned to the dorms may be inefficient.

Last week, the University Improvements Committee headed up a safety walk around campus, looking for issues that should be addressed. The tour examined outdoor concerns and did not enter any buildings.

Increasing the number of emergency callboxes and improving lighting in some of the more remote and less visible areas on campus were topics of concern. Students saw areas around the Fine Arts building and Landrum that needed both.

Many of the concerns expressed were less about safety and more about accessibility. Students examined ramps and the number of automatic doorways, making a list of suggestions.

Student leaders on the walk also expressed concern about the numerous cracks in the sidewalks, especially near Founders Hall.

A full report on their findings is expected to be presented within the next two weeks.

In other business at the SGA’s Nov. 8 meeting, it was announced that students may begin applying for book grants from the SGA for the Spring 2010 semester. Applications are available at the SGA Office in the Student Union, room 330, and details can be found at Download the application here.

Story by Jesse Call