Public Safety strengthens security

Adelia Couser

The Public Safety Department has been undertaking new measures to strengthen the university’s security after recent local and nationwide events such as the violence in New Haven, the burglaries in Village and the Boston Marathon bombings.

“At all the gates, it’s much tighter getting in than it was a year ago,” Chief of Public Safety David Barger said. “We also patrol the campus 24/7 and we’ve studied at length adding additional cameras across campus for a number of different areas.”

Public Safety is still determining where the cameras would be located, Barger said.

Public Safety is in charge of regulating university parking, opening and closing campus buildings, handling medical emergencies and fires and investigating any crimes committed on campus, according to Barger.

“We’re sort of the law enforcement on campus,” Barger said. “We’re here for the safety of the students. We want to maintain Quinnipiac’s open campus environment, but we try to mitigate any threats against students by controlling visitors and so forth.”

The burglaries in the Village caused Public Safety to reexamine current security measures, especially patrolling. These burglaries are still under investigation by Hamden police, according Chief Thomas Wydra of the Hamden Police.

Meanwhile the Boston Marathon bombings that occurred in April affected the university’s plans for graduation, Barger said. Prior to the spring graduation ceremony, Public Safety brought in explosive-detector dogs to secure the quad and were significantly stricter than they had been in previous years in terms of letting people on and off of campus, according to Barger.

As for the recent violence in New Haven, Barger says that while he cannot forbid students from going into the city, he tries to make them aware of the problems.

“[This year I’ve sent] probably at least half a dozen emails having to do with things that have happened in New Haven,” Barger said.

Public Safety has also hired New Haven police officers to help with the loading and unloading of shuttles on the weekends to ensure students’ safety.

Freshman Brooke Wheaton says these measures have helped her feel protected in the city.

“I feel safe in New Haven because there are security guards in the park on the way back to the shuttle,” Wheaton said. “I think the guards do a good job of keeping things secure.”

While Public Safety officers check the Q-cards of students entering campus, students feel some officers appear to be rather strict with the process while other are quite lenient.

“I feel like it’s too easy to get on campus,” sophomore Jackie Dembro said. “I feel like [Public Safety] should enforce rules more; they should make it harder to get in because sometimes I feel unsafe with the way that people can easily get onto campus.”

Barger explains Public Safety is currently working on maintaining consistency with checking Q-cards.

“Usually [checking Q-cards] is the tightest at the beginning of the semester because [officers] don’t know [students],” he said. “But if an officer sees a student passing through every day, they really do connect the name with the face. Other officers have worked in North Haven or on York Hill, and they’re not quite as familiar [with students] so they’re going to look at those cards a little bit closer.”

A second project the department has undertaken for the 2013-2014 academic year is the development of a new radio system. The radios improve communication between the university’s three campuses, especially North Haven.

“When you look at it, we’re spanning three different locations, which can be difficult,” Barger said. “And unlike a lot of places, when the lights go down here, it doesn’t get quiet; that’s when the activity begins. That’s why we work 24/7 to ensure students’ safety.”