Safety on their minds

UNA police Chief Bob Pastula and Vice President for Student Affairs David Shields speak as Librarian Doris McDaniel listens during campus forums the Division of Student Affairs hosted after a student was reportedly raped in the parking deck.

In response to recent increased crime on campus, UNA officials held four open forums to address safety and security concerns to the UNA community.

The purpose of the forums was to inform the campus about safety measures UNA police have introduced over the last three years, said David Shields, UNA vice president for student affairs.

“When things like this happen, it creates an urgency for all of us,” he said. “We want to know why this is happening and how we can prevent it.”

UNA police Chief Bob Pastula said he’s seen several security and safety issues that need to be fixed since he started working at UNA and has made efforts to fix those problems.

“We’ve gone to 12-hour shifts to in crease our coverage and have three officers on duty at most times,” he said. “We moved to a more centrally located area of campus to increase our visibility. We also offer bike patrols, Segways and officers patrolling on foot.”

Recently, UNA police have created new investigative positions, Pastula said.

“I’ve created an investigator’s position and, more recently, in response to the recent events, a sexual crime investigator who is specially trained,” he said.

Shields said the recent addition of reserve officers, who train for seven to eight months, to the UNA police force has doubled the size of the force and said they don’t cost the university much money because they work on a volunteer basis.

“Recently, we had 12 reserve officers trained, and they’re out there assisting us right now,” he said. “They’ll be officially joining our ranks soon.”

Pastula said he has arranged for more security in the parking deck, citing officers who will patrol the deck from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.

A new 24-hour dispatch center will open in late November or early December, Pastula said.

“We will be opening a new dispatch center, which will be manned 24 hours a day,” he said. “And we have blue phones located throughout campus — about 70 phones, with five on each level of the parking deck.”

Pastula said students should call 911 for campus emergencies and 765-HELP for non-emergencies. A sign displaying the HELP number will be hung outside the university police station soon, he said.

Shields and Pastula encouraged students to take advantage of campus safety resources, such as the Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol and the Rape Aggression Defense courses offered on campus.

“Saturday (Oct. 13) is the last class of this year, and new ones will start in January,” he said. “Because they aren’t usually well-attended, we only offer them once a quarter, but if demand goes up, we’ll create more classes.”

Shields said campus will be safer with the help of students.

“We have 7,000 people a day on campus,” he said. “If we can employ 7,000 eyes, we have a better opportunity to respond to security issues.”