The University of Indianapolis held a second “Public Safety Week,” according to Chief of Police Brandon Pate. The week’s events occurred January 23-27 and were implemented with the intention of breaking down traditional barriers between students and UIPD, Pate said.
“It’s part of a patrol strategy we put in place in 2023 which was to increase engagement, increase education around policing, but then also have solid enforcement… [it was created] just to be more intentional about getting with the students and trying to provide more opportunities to be with them,” Pate said.
According to Pate, the week’s activities included self-defense classes, a campus safety walk, alongside programs such as “Coffee with a Cop” and “Chat with the Chief.” Pate said that “Coffee with a Cop” is intended as a relaxed, informal conversation, where students can get to know officers and ask questions.
“We just come in, get to know each other, learn about what classes the students are taking, listen to concerns they may have, they’ll ask us questions,” Pate said. “Usually, a lot of the questions are around policing, parking, crime and new initiatives that get pushed out.”
Pate said that two “chats” are set intentionally in Public Safety Week, and then after the week there are courses offered. Self-defense classes were introduced this year because the department has received requests from students for classes, according to Pate
According to Lieutenant Dallas Gaines, he was involved in teaching the self-defense class for students, developing the tools for students to increase self-awareness and giving them knowledge on how to protect themselves if they get into a dangerous situation. Gaines said that self-defense skills are a valuable tool for life.
“I think it’s good, beneficial for not only just students but faculty, staff or anybody that lives on their own,” Gaines said. “Anybody that lives in an apartment complex. It doesn’t just apply to college. It applies to life, so just being kind of situationally aware of what’s going on around you.”
According to Pate, the general perception of safety on campus has improved and is better than it previously was. Gaines said that the mood on campus is more relaxed, allowing students and faculty to have a more open, positive relationship with the UIPD.
“I feel like everybody has a sense of security. I mean, we do a pretty good job of being seen, being personable. I feel like we have a good relationship with the community and with the staff and with the students,” Gaines said. “They see us, they’re not afraid to talk to us, and we’re kind of open books, you can ask us anything. We’re more of a kind of a role model, a service-oriented police department.”
The UIPD has recently announced updates to overall campus security, including five reinstalled Narcan and naloxone boxes, and nine Automated External Defibrillators across campus. Pate said an AED device is used to stabilize the heart if someone is experiencing heart issues. Four have been added to squad cars, three to the Krannert Memorial Library and two to the Schwitzer student center, Pate said.
According to Pate, there has also been the introduction of security barricades that can be used in an emergency. This new technology can be used alongside a new camera system installed in 2023 to aid in mitigation, deterrence and response, he said.
“[The barricades] are designed for if we lock down the campus or if we have a critical incident. It’s just a piece [of equipment] that they can pull off a wall and put on the door that secures the door. It’s called ‘Night Lock’, and the website shows videos of penetration testing where it takes 45 minutes to break through the door,” Pate said.
Pate said that students and the wider UIndy community need to be proactive in their approach to safety on campus. He said that making sure dorm halls and cars were locked is a crucial step to setting students up for success, safety-wise.
“Safety a lot has to do with kind of how we approach situations.Try to walk head high, versus looking at the phone,” Pate said.“All of that stuff is little things that can be done that will drastically increase even just a perception of safety,”
According to Gaines, students can actively contribute to their safety by engaging with law enforcement and attending events such as self-defense classes. Making sure students are aware of their surroundings is a top priority, Gaines said.
“Get engaged in the things that are going on on the campus,” Gaines said. “Come to the events if they have any questions or concerns or any even complaints, come up and ask us, engage us.”
In the future, Pate would like to see the student body and law enforcement become closer as a community. Closer ties and an active dialogue are essential to creating a safe environment, according to Pate.
“It’s a huge public safety step in the right direction if your community cares about itself, so the more we can all integrate, not just police and community but students across the campus, doing the engagements, and going to athletic events… that vastly increase public safety,” Pate said.