With the beginnings of a new year and semester underway at St. Cloud State, new ideas and changes are being brought to the table from the Public Safety Department on campus.
The overall purpose of Public Safety is to ensure the safety of students and faculty on campus. This semester, the department plans to implement more security on campus by enhancing specific walkways to encourage people to be drawn to those areas by improved lighting.
These light updates would allow public safety to have a stronger vantage point, along with adding a greater presence of cameras in those areas. More security-enhanced pathways would likely encourage people to use those spaces, providing a safer alternative.
The department also recently obtained a new patrol vehicle, which is their latest addition to their fleet that originally consisted of three vehicles that were purchased in 2008. The new squad car was purchased through parking funds, avoiding a direct financial impact on the university. These funds are also used to fund two-thirds of the department as a whole.
The parking revenue collected on campus through parking funds, citations and parking permits is also allocated to facilities that provide upkeep for parking lots, replacing equipment that is on a replacement cycle such as bobcats and sweepers, and paying for student employee salaries.
“We are trying very hard for parking to pay for parking while still being able to put money into a reserve, as parking lot replacement is very expensive,” said Jennifer Furan Super, interim director of Public Safety.
Other changes include restructuring the department in hopes to consolidate more security responsibilities on campus to the Public Safety building. Currently, several departments separate obligations on tasks like managing card access and building keys. One of the proposals is to move those tasks together to a central department to better monitor who is receiving building access.
This last fall, the Public Safety Department updated paying lots in order to provide users with the ability to use their credit or debit cards at the station. There is also an app that can be downloaded that allows people to pay on their phones, allowing more options that were not previously available.
Other pay lot machines will come to the end of their life at the end of 2016, according to Super. Due to this end, research has begun by looking into what the new machines will look like and their strategic plans moving forward.
Other topics being researched by the department includes the possibility of retinal scanning for security outside of campus buildings in the future.
“The technology for retinal scans is definitely out there. St. Cloud State has hired an outside firm called Division 28 that is working on a comprehensive physical security plan for the university. That plan will drive a lot of our physical security needs over the long term,” she said. “It provides structure with policies and procedures, but then developing a strategic plan for framework on moving forward on where our funding should be for our initiatives.”
Rather than retinal scanning, a more feasible option the department is looking at is card access on the exterior doors of all buildings across campus. The objective is to provide more security with a better ability to control access of buildings, especially after business hours.
As for the retinal scanning, the option has potential in the future, but will first likely be appropriate for laboratory spaces or locker rooms, Super said.
Students have access to what’s going on with Public Safety by receiving periodic emails to inform about campus updates regarding safety. The most recent emails sent out to students included precautions regarding phone scams targeting foreign students, often from a caller claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and also a list of tips advised for students attending parties instigated by social media.