UPD: More than an emergency number


Jacob Summerville/The Lion’s Roar

Located in Pride Hall, the University Police Department’s centralized placement not only helps in responding to emergency situations, but it also allows the department to be prominent among the student body.

One aspect of my college search during my senior year of high school was finding a safe campus. Having gone to high school in the heart of Baton Rouge, I realized that the state’s capital was not the safest place to attend college.

During my senior year, the university was ranked 15th in the nation in campus safety, according to a 2016 study by College Choice. That was not the core reason for becoming a Lion, but it did influence my decision to attend here.

Now, as a student, I have noticed that the visibility and amicability of the University Police Department plays a major factor in the safety of our campus. I have never had to call the department in a state of emergency, but if I had to, I would not hesitate. Their presence at university events and proximity to most of campus enhances the department’s ability to act effectively when called upon.

Having attended dozens of on-campus events for work, I have noticed that the police department has been a background feature: the officers’ presence is noted, but they are not intrusive. In addition, some of the officers are recent graduates, which I think helps current students connect to the department better.

Another strength of the UPD is its location. The department is located rather centrally, if you consider North Campus, and it is embedded with the dormitories, a hotspot for incidents to occur. It is ingeniously placed, seeing that all freshmen, both commuters and residents, will probably pass by the department on a daily basis, walking to and from classes. Along with the information given out during orientation about the UPD, incoming freshmen will not have to search hard to find where the police department is located.

The relationship established between the student body also contributes to the safety on campus. I attended “My Life Matters” last November as a staff reporter, but Gipson’s message still resonates with me. One moment that stood out to me was when Patrick Gipson, police lieutenant, said something regarding how students know about an incident well before the police department – that students are more likely to be a witness to a crime than an officer. For the UPD to know about what happened, they have to be contacted.

On its web page, the UPD has safety information including how to respond to an active shooter, methods of reporting a sexual assault incident, how to report violence in the workplace and an anonymous crime-reporting system.

Along with these valuable resources, another source I find intriguing is the Daily Crime Log. Updated on a monthly basis, the report shows incidents ranging from traffic violations to medical emergencies to battery. The reason I find this tool appealing is because it shows the transparency of the UPD by allowing people to not only view what situations have been handled, but it also allows for the campus community to provide information on cases that are still open.

Other than the shooting incident on North Campus last spring, there has not been a widely-discussed crime among the community. One, I think the small-town nature of the campus helps reduce the number of violent crimes. On the other hand, I think that the students’ activism in reporting a crime to the UPD and the department’s ability to take control of a situation contributes to campus safety.

I believe that the campus remains safe because of the resources provided by the university and the relationship formed between the students and the UPD. I do not wake up in fear, thinking that there is bound to be violence on campus while walking to Fayard Hall for class. Although I have only talked to a select number of officers, mostly for work-related matters, the department’s actions do not go unnoticed.