Kean Police Department creates initiatives to make campus safer
By Sade Cox
Crime statistics have leveled off the last few years at the university, according to the 2014-2015 Security and Fire Report (formerly “The Guide”), and police are suggesting that their partnership with the campus community is playing a major role.
“Our overall activity here has significantly dropped within the last three years,” said Director of Public Safety/Police, Adam Shubsda. “We certainly can’t take full responsibility of that here at the Kean University Police Department, however it is the partnerships we developed within the community and people’s willingness to come forward.”
The Security and Fire Report is updated annually and provides the campus community and prospective students and employees with the campus security report, the annual fire safety report, student conduct policies and other institutional information in compliance with state and federal legislation.
According to this year’s data, disciplinary reports for liquor violations decreased from 174 in 2012 to 84 in 2013. Drug related violations have increased from 8 arrests in 2012 to 44 arrests in 2013. Most major offenses have either declined or stayed about the same: no robberies in 2013 compared to one in 2012; one aggravated assault in 2013 and one in 2012; and seven burglaries in 2013, down from 15 in 2012 and 47 in 2011.
While the campus community continues to play it’s role in coming forward and reporting any suspicious activity, the department is working to create various initatives to keep the campus safe, including email alerts, body cameras, and educational programs.
The Department of Public Safety and Police utilizes the “CampusAlert™” a notification for Crisis Campus Management and First Responder Communication for students, faculty and staff. “CampusAlert™” sends text messages, emails, and phone calls to the Kean community.
Police used this technology just this past month when it was discovered that there were fraudulent tickets to shows being sold in classrooms on campus.
“We are the ones who sent out the email to the campus about the selling of tickets,” said Shubsda, adding that they were prompted to investigate the issue thanks to a Kean student who came to them about the situation.
The promptness of email and text message alerts sent to the students, faculty, and staff at Kean University has assisted in helping Kean police respond more quickly to criminal activity on campus. When students and staff report suspicious activity or persons on campus it makes it easier.
“CampusAlert™” is only one way the department is working with the community.
Shubsda along with Janice Murray-Laury, the Vice President of Students Affairs are creating an initiative called Kean “S.A.F.E,” that is an acronym for Students Active For Everyone. It is a program designed to educate and engage everyone on campus safety. This includes commuters, residence, graduate, athlete, and Greek council students to be involved in the safety of students, faculty, and staff on campus. The program is currently in early development.
Shubsda is also looking for professional development for the officers at Kean University. Kean University Police Department hired Anna Zak, an Associate Director, from the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, who has twenty five years in law enforcement and Detective/Sergeant Annie Coll from the Director of Office of Professional Standards to train officers at Kean. The officers will attend training classes to learn new avenues to protect the Kean community.
Also, the university currently has 500 “body cams,” which will soon be worn by every campus police officer to ensure the safety of students and uphold the officers for their accountability of their actions. These cameras, which cost just under $500 each, will track and video record the officers’ daily routine throughout the day. The body camera footage will be uploaded to a cloud wireless storage to obtain the information for evidence. Currently there are a few officers testing the cameras out, said Shubsda.
“We are using state of the art technology to protect this place, to give you the best officers we can. Those cameras have led to the solving of many crimes,” said Shubsda.
Shubsda has been the Director of the Kean University Department of Public Safety/Police for three years now. The department includes a total of almost 60 police, security, communications, fire safety, environmental safety and support staff.
“I really feel at this point after three years of having to change the culture with the community and relationship with the police department, that now we really need to enhance our efforts to use the technology and include the students in the public safety process,” he said.