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UNT police lay out plans for the semester

UNT police lay out plans for the semester

A University of North Texas Police squad car sits outside of the Sullivant Safety Center. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

UNT police lay out plans for the semester
January 21
02:27 2016

Samantha Sullivan | Staff Writer

@SamElizabethan

Efforts by the UNT Police Department are in full swing in anticipation for the rollout of campus carry on Aug. 1, but that isn’t the only concern the department has this semester.

Keeping students and staff up-to-date and educated about safety concerns is a top priority for chief Ed Reynolds and his department of 45 officers this semester. The department was re-accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in November—something that less than 7 percent of police departments achieve.

Students and housing

This semester, there will be new collaborative efforts between the police department, the dean of students and student housing. Students and staff should see an increase in appearances by officers at residence halls giving presentations and handing out safety and theft pamphlets.

“We’ve worked with [housing] and the Dean of Students office to be in there twice a semester for each dorm,” community relations officer Kevin Crawford said.

The police department hopes their efforts with the Dean of Students and housing will aid in further educating the public about how to protect themselves.

Assistant vice president for Student Affairs Maureen McGuiness has known the chief for 19 years and said her office collaborates with the police department on a daily basis. She said the chief and his department are looking at safety from a holistic perspective and have become customer service-oriented since Reynolds became chief.

“They’re really focused on becoming proactive from different perspectives,” McGuiness said.

But among those who aren’t new to UNT, there’s a chance these changes will go unnoticed.

“I think the students who have been on campus will see the same police presence they’ve seen and been accustomed to,” Reynolds said.

For new students, seeing multiple officers on campus could be alarming, but Reynolds said the increase in security is in the best interest of everyone at the university.

“We want to have a heavier presence on campus,” Reynolds said. “We want to have officers that are on foot patrol and bike patrol, not just riding around in cars. We want you to see them walking through buildings and things like that.”

The heavier presence isn’t because UNT is under any greater threat than it has been in previous years, but so the community can get more acquainted with the department outside of critical situations.

“The more you see them walking through the buildings, the less you think when you see one, ‘I wonder what’s going on? Why are they here?’” Reynolds said.

Alcohol in the Union

With the decision to serve alcohol at the new Union still looming, Reynolds said he and his department would deal with things in a similar fashion to when Apogee Stadium began serving alcohol in the fall of 2014.

“We actually researched a couple of universities that had already started serving alcohol at their stadiums and found out from them that they didn’t really notice any increase in issues,” Reynolds said. “So we didn’t increase our staff necessarily for that, and we’ve gone two seasons and haven’t had any noticeable issues with the alcohol.”

The department doesn’t anticipate that there will be any major changes to police protocol if licensed individuals are permitted to serve alcohol in the new Union.

Students on campus don’t think alcohol will be much of a problem either.

“I don’t see why it wouldn’t be safe,” said Katie Gibbs, a second-year journalism graduate student. “People can get alcohol anywhere. I don’t think more officers would help.”

Parking and transportation will remain the same, although the department is anticipating the master plan to be finalized this spring. The department has already started working with a consultant who will make suggestions for the next 10 years.

Featured Image: File Photo Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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