“Campus Safety officers are so willing to help, no matter what the situation is,” said Sophomore Avalon McOmber.
The officers that students see patrolling campus appear as a threat to some, but more than anything, their intentions are to protect and educate the students of McDaniel College. The gap between the officers and students results from a difference in lifestyle: authority figures versus a student body that fears being in trouble. According to the officers, they want students to see them as a resource for help and guidance. They attempt to keep up with the lives of students in order to establish a closer relationship.
“Students start partying at 10, they are partying hard at midnight, and by 3 they are in bed,” said Mike Webster, director of Campus Safety. The officers keep up with student lifestyles by paying attention to trends and patterns like this. According to Webster’s records, it doesn’t matter whether it is service calls or calls for emergencies, call volume peaks between midnight and 3 a.m. on any evening.
Thursday evenings are particularly busy, due to discounted drinks offered by local bars. Campus Safety officers know that students will be walking around off campus, especially on Pennsylvania Avenue in the evening hours, so they prepare for this by sending an officer to walk up and down the street on weekends late at night.
Between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., an officer is patrolling Pennsylvania Avenue to “remind students to be quiet while walking through the neighborhoods…while they are leaving campus and as they are coming back, [to] sort of tamp down students who may have been drinking, being loud and boisterous,” said Webster.
Private First Class Kristen McGeeney is Campus Safety’s emergency medical responder and covers the night shifts on campus. Her medical training is used often when alcohol is involved, she said. On weekends when students are out and about, she said “we are focused on being seen” on and off campus. Her goal is not only to aid students who are in need of medical assistance, but to be seen at night and keep intruders off of campus.
“Anyone not affiliated with campus that might come on to campus might think again because they see us around.” McGeeney hopes that this presence will make students feel safer.
Nighttime emergencies can cause a scare for students, but Campus Safety officers do their best to be a symbol of security and protection for students. McOmber made a call to Campus Safety once in the middle of the night when she was having problems with her kidneys.
“I woke up feeling really sick and didn’t know what to do, so I called Campus Safety and asked them to take me to the hospital.” McOmber said they were more than happy to help, and they made her feel comfortable in a scary situation.
Junior Abby Shickler is an R.A. in Blanche and has only good things to say about the officers and their roles on campus. She said that they always want to protect students but they do have a responsibility to discipline those who are misbehaving. From her experiences and training, she said they would rather not get students in trouble, but sometimes it is necessary and students should respect that.
Along the lines of education, the Campus Safety officers of McDaniel College have a slightly different approach when it comes to prevention, according to officers Kristen McGeeny and Joshua Bronson. Both are affiliated with the sexual assault branch of Campus Safety and explained the balance between advocacy and law enforcement for which the college is nationally recognized.
“We focus very heavily on the advocacy side, and do everything that we can to get the student the help that they need,” said Bronson. He explains that this is somewhat of a different way of approaching it and it has been suggested that other colleges take a look at this approach.
Bronson and McGeeney explained that many students don’t report sexual assault. “We know they happen, but we typically don’t get many reports…and there are a variety of reasons for that,” said Bronson. They have started a committee to bring awareness to this issue because they feel that it is important and a major issue for many students.
Corporal Adam Reid is another officer that dedicates most of his time to educating the student body. He fulfills the role of Community Outreach Coordinator and works to educate students on a variety of topics. He manages the Simulated Impaired Driving Experience, which allows students to understand what it is like to drive under the influence. It is this type of presence on campus that students can appreciate while having fun and learning about an important issue.
Reid works mainly day shifts and strives to maintain order on the campus. “During the daytime you deal with everyone…there is a lot going on as far as the amount of people that are here.” The daytime gives them a chance to catch up on “fundamental things” that are necessities. There are many aspects to protecting this campus, and officers like Reid do everything that they can to keep the students safe and orderly.
Shickler feels that “Campus Safety officers are such genuine people behind their scary uniforms.”