Public Safety preparedness

Senseless attacks on innocent people seem to be happening more frequently across the country. Historically, college campuses have not been exempt from the threat of these tragedies.

On April 30, several people at the University City apartment complex, which is home to many University of California, San Diego students, were attacked at the apartment’s pool. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the shooter was shot and killed by police upon arrival.

On May 2, a stabbing occurred on the University of Texas at Austin campus.  Four male students were stabbed with one student being fatally injured, according to UT-Austin Chief of Police, David Carter. The suspect was taken into custody and charged for murder.     

According to the Department of Public Safety (P-Safe), being well-informed and reporting dangerous or suspicious behavior is the key to ensuring maximum safety measures are in place to protect USD students.

Interim Chief Quinton “Q” Kawahara explained the training P-Safe officers go through and what they carry on their person.

“New Public Safety officers receive approximately 14 weeks of field training when they are hired, and they continue to receive various forms of other training throughout their employment at USD,” Kawahara said. “Our Public Safety officers, including kiosk officers, carry a firearm.”

Kawahara explained this in more detail.

“In addition to a firearm, Public Safety officers carry a baton and pepper spray,” Kawahara said. “Public Safety officers and kiosk officers carry handcuffs as well.”

According to Kawahara, the training that these officers go through at USD is in addition to the previous training and prior employment experience that a majority of the officers already have.   

Kawahara commented on the weekly active shooter training that was held on campus for students during the Fall and start of Spring semester.

“We were offering the Active Shooter presentation once a week during the Fall and start of Spring semester, but due to low to no attendance we focused on training individual officers or groups on campus,” Kawahara said. “We will start up again in the Fall semester for the general campus training.  Training for Active Shooter response for our officers is continuous and ongoing.”

In cases of incidents close to USD but not under USD jurisdiction, Public Safety is still able to be involved to ensure everyone’s safety.

“If an accident or incident were to occur out on Linda Vista Road, or on bordering roads to property owned by USD, USD Public Safety patrol units would respond to ensure all parties involved are okay, and to request additional assistance such as the fire and medical department and SDPD,” Kawahara said. “If one of our USD community members is involved, we want to address safety concerns and support them in any way we can.”

To ensure the safety of the student body, P-Safe officers require the help of the USD community. Having the tools and weapons they carry on them, along with the training they go through helps the officers do their job. However, having the support and cooperation of those who they are trying to protect is vital.

Sophomore Molly McGarvey is grateful for the Public Safety officers and has had personal experience with Public Safety’s help.   

“I feel very safe on campus,” McGarvey said.  “I always try to be attentive to my surroundings in order to keep the campus safe.  I once encountered a strange individual while I was walking down Linda Vista toward main campus.  The individual was obviously not in a right state of mind and was headed toward the Vista Apartments.  Once I was back on main campus, I ran into a Public Safety officer and told him what I saw. He took notes on what I said and immediately responded to the situation.”       

The P-Safe webpage contains information about what students can do to help report dangerous activity or situations, as well as what sort of situations students should be vigilant about.

“The Department of Public Safety supports the mission and goals of the University of San Diego by providing a full range of community-oriented crime prevention and crime control services to contribute to the safety and security of the campus community,” the webpage stated. “This is not a job that we can do alone. Your help is essential.”

Kawahara confirmed this statement about what USD students can do to make USD a safer campus.

“All members of the USD community should continue to report anything suspicious to our department in a timely manner,” Kawahara said. “Don’t assume someone else has contacted our department.”

Ultimately, teamwork between P-Safe and the student body will maximize the safety of USD and its campus community. That being said, an announcement regarding who has been chosen as the new Chief of Public Safety to replace retired ChiefLarry Barnett, is expected to be made soon. With the protection of USD at the forefront of the new chief’s responsibilities, he or she will work with P-Safe officers to continue to make USD a safe campus for all of the USD community to enjoy.

Lilyana Espinoza | Contributor