Thursday January 4, 2018

Enhancing Campus Safety

Nearing Rodney Chatman's second anniversary as executive director of public safety and chief of police for the University of Dayton, the division has attracted the attention of several organizations nationwide for its initiatives and expertise.

Since Chatman joined the University in January 2016, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and the Association of Title IX administrators have asked him and other University administrators to present at conferences, and the Ohio Crisis Response Team has given UD public safety its Allied Professional Award.

Public safety representatives also have been tapped for panels to review officer-involved shootings in the area.

"Our goal is to be recognized among the best campus law enforcement agencies in the U.S. Our first-year enhancements during the 2016-17 academic year have been well received and we are excited about what we're rolling out this academic year," Chatman said. "Everything we do is based on the pillars established by President Barack Obama's task force on 21st century policing — building trust and legitimacy, policy and oversight, technology and social media, community policing and crime reduction, training and education and officer safety and wellness."

Chatman's first initiatives focused on public safety officers being more visible on campus — steady burn lights atop each cruiser to allow anyone in the student neighborhood to see them from blocks away, a substation in the student neighborhood, and regular visits with students at lunch and student organization meetings, plus special events like barbecues and bowling nights.

Others focused on professional development — a fair and impartial policing workshop and Lexipol, a service to ensure public safety policies and procedures are up-to-date.

Another effort that generates awareness, the Citizen Police Academy, provided faculty, staff and students a taste of public safety's day-to-day operations. Sessions included an overview of how public safety investigates crimes, and opportunities for participants to "solve" a sample crime, go on a foot patrol and conduct a sample traffic stop.

"I have been really impressed with the public safety initiatives. Engagement with students is an important aspect of keeping campus safe. As a student, it is really impactful when officers are so willing to speak one-on-one with us about the changes and improvements," said Jamie Vieson, University of Dayton Student Government Association president. "Last year, Chief Chatman came to an SGA public meeting. Our senators had a number of questions for him, especially surrounding safety and St. Patrick’s Day. We are grateful he was so willing to answer our questions, because it allows everyone on campus to be on the same page.

"We hope to connect with Chief Chatman again this coming semester and look forward to keeping the open dialogue."

This academic year, Chatman is establishing a public safety advisory committee and reviving a campus community review board to evaluate the division's operations. Also, each supervisor will review 10 body camera videos a week "so we can see the extraordinary work our officers are doing, commend them, and address certain issues before they become problematic."

"We feel the policy, oversight and accountability piece is really important," Chatman said. "If we're saying we're going to be transparent, then we have to be transparent. We just can't say it — we have to do it."

The division also will work with campus partners on sexual assault prevention efforts and with federal, state and local agencies to help faculty, staff and students with situational awareness in dangerous circumstances and staying safe against fraud, counterfeiting and theft. It also will create an International Student Academy to help students from other countries adjust to U.S. laws and regulations, handle parking tickets, navigate public transportation and avoid scams, especially those threatening deportation.

Chatman, who started campuswide Flyer Aware messages this year for instances that don't rise to the level of a safety advisory, also hopes to expand public safety's "virtual" presence, especially crime prevention tutorials on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. He added that he will encourage students to share crime prevention tips so students can learn from each other.

To learn more about University of Dayton public safety efforts, visit the related link and story.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at 937-229-3391 or srobinson@udayton.edu.

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