Safety has always been the number one priority for law enforcement, and with a new academic year upon us, law enforcement agencies across the nation have been preaching just that. With this academic year already underway, the topic of safety is of top priority to campus officials, as well as local law enforcement agencies as more and more students start to go out and explore off campus activities throughout the year.
“We try to do the same things that we’ve always done that we know work,” said St. Cloud Chief of Police William Blair Anderson. “We use good data-driven policing strategies, and we deploy our resources based on what our statistics tell us are areas that need our presence.”
The statistics that the police department obtains help the officers better protect the community. By having good, organized data, police can now specify what policing strategy to use in different areas of the community. In regards to SCSU, Anderson feels that it should be policed just like everywhere else in St. Cloud, especially given the fact that St. Cloud city streets pass through parts of SCSU’s main campus.
Anderson offered tips for staying safe:
- Be confident in your surroundings.
- Travel in groups, especially in areas that are not well lit.
- Lock your doors and windows.
- Don’t leave valuables in plain sight of your car.
- Don’t leave your car unlocked with the keys in it.
As helpful as these tips are, many students feel that further precautions are necessary in order to stay safe in St. Cloud.
“I’m definitely more alert when I go out,” said sophomore criminal justice student Hannah Pickle. “I have a Taser, pepper spray and a switch knife on me at all times.”
Though certain utilities can be very helpful in times of emergencies, a majority of students, as well as higher public safety authorities agree that using your instincts and following the “safety in numbers” rule is the best way to be safe when roaming around.
Pickle and other students on campus have systems and plans to help them stay safe when going out. These routines allow them to be proactive against crime, and many follow the same concepts of being safe in numbers and following gut instincts.
“Personally, what I go by is 3-4-5 stay alive. If you’re out alone, probably a stupid idea. If you’re with another person it’s better than being alone, but you still run a higher risk of something happening to you. But, if you are with three people it’s considered a group; four is obviously bigger and five’s a crowd.”
Ashley Macdonald, a freshman pre-veterinarian major, says that she does not yet feel the need to carry any kind of defense utilities, but knows many students that do.
“I would get a vibe if I didn’t feel safe,” said Macdonald, the north Minneapolis native. “In my neighborhood, I wouldn’t be able to walk around, but here [in St. Cloud], I feel fine.”
No matter if it’s the Chief of Police or any student on campus, the consensus is generally the same: travel in packs and make sure to always follow your gut instincts about certain situations. Being proactive about these tips can help to stay safe this academic year.
“It doesn’t mean that our city has given over to lawlessness, but it’s just a smart thing to do,” said Anderson.