By: Sarah Rowan, Staff Writer
The Towson University Police Department has been named one of Safe Campus’ 2016 Top 25 university administrative departments making a difference in student safety.
TUPD ranks number 13 out of 4,706 eligible college and university administrative departments in the United States.
The department was nominated based on its efforts to improve campus safety within the past year. The Safe Campus Board of Advisors, made up of senior-level higher education administrators, voted to decide the top 25 winners.
Deputy Chief of Police Joseph Herring describes campus safety as “a continuing effort that goes on from semester to semester.”
“The main thrust of what we do is in partnership with the students, faculty and staff,” Herring said. “We do a lot of education pieces and a lot of crime prevention pieces and presentations.”
TU has consistently been ranked as the safest campus in the University System of Maryland. In addition, TUPD has been the recipient of the Governor’s Award for Crime Prevention for 30 consecutive years.
At the end of the spring semester, TUPD partnered with the Student Government Association to launch the SaferMobility app. This app helps users protect themselves against potential crimes, and includes features such as mobile escort and real-time video.
SGA President Kurt Anderson said that he “hopes to see the SaferMobility app being used as widely as possible by the end of the year.”
According to an Oct. 1 WBAL story, only 700 of the more than 23,000 students, faculty and staff had downloaded the free app.
“We’ve spent a fair amount of money on bringing SaferMobility to campus, along with TUPD putting a lot of time and resources into the project,” Anderson said. “We’re hoping that every Towson student will have the app installed on their phone so safety will be at their fingertips.”
Both TUPD and SGA went through a lengthy review process for the app, according to Herring. They spent the summer modifying it to make it more useable for students, and have started their main marketing piece this semester to try to encourage students to download the app.
Herring also described the partnership TUPD has with the community and how it makes a difference in keeping campus safe.
“We really do appreciate the unique environment we have here,” Herring said. “That is the biggest and most basic primary reason that we are able to keep crime low on campus. The community is engaged, they pay attention to what is going on around them, and their expectations are high.”
Herring continued, “Our officers like engagement with the students. They don’t want to bother people, but at the same time we expect them to be friendly, and they are.”
In addition to SaferMobility, TUPD offers a number of presentations and defense-training classes for students to better ensure their safety on campus. These classes and presentations are often advertised through the Towson Tigers Today daily announcements, or on flyers and bulletin boards throughout campus.
Herring advises students to “take advantage of it all.”