Tour of Towson University Office of Public Safety was conducted by Chief of Police Bernie Gerst along with Corporal Kia Williams.
The Towson University Office of Public Safety consists of the Towson University Police Department; Office of Emergency Preparedness;Environmental Health and Safety; and Access Control. All are housed in a state-of- the-art building on Towsontown Blvd on campus.
Chief Gerst primarily talked about the Towson University Police Department. The TUPD operates 24 hours 365 days a year and is a model for other universities. The department is nationally recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Towson University has received the Governor’s Crime Prevention Award for more than 30 consecutive years. TU has the fewest crimes per capita in the University System of Maryland.
The 42 Sworn Officers of the TUPD are vested with full police authority in providing protection and service to the University community and it is their responsibility to enforce state and local laws and campus regulations. They are prepared to respond to any type of emergency on campus. The TUPD sworn staff is complimented by Police Aides who assist by handling calls for service not requiring a fully sworn officer.
The TUPD has a state-of-the-art Communications Center which operates 24 hours 365 days a year. The university has over 180 blue light emergency phones throughout the campus which provides immediate contact with the communications center. In addition there are 1,600 surveillance cameras strategically placed throughout the university campus to prevent and solve crime. The license plate on each vehicle that enters the campus is scanned by plate readers. Stolen cars or wanted owners are quickly approached by TU police.
The Public Safety Building tour included : 1) the communications center; 2) the main conference room; 3)equipment and weapon storage rooms; 3) well secured sally port ; 4) prisoner processing room; 5) prisoner holding cells; 6) prisoner interview room; 7) roll call room and assorted staff offices.
Campus Emergency Notification System Notifications sent via text to cell phones, campus computers, and emails. Access Control: A vital part of emergency preparedness is monitoring and controlling access to high-risk areas. The Security Cameras and Electronic Access units helps to keep campus safe by managing these important and complex functions. There are Key Lock boxes to control and monitor the amount of keys that are available.
To ease the confusion, TU’s Office of Public Safety is training 24 hospital liaisons to improve communication and patient tracking during emergencies. If an emergency strikes, the liaisons—all TU employees who live in the area—will be dispatched to local hospitals. There, they will record the arrivals and conditions of patients on electronic tracking forms that will automatically route the information to TU’s emergency operations center. The liaisons will assist hospital personnel in finding emergency contact information for patients and will interface with loved ones arriving at the hospitals, providing information and support.
Experts in the FBI and Maryland Health Department have noticed a gap in victim tracking and are focusing on it as a way to reduce confusion during emergencies. The TUPD recently shared their program with an FBI victim services representative, who expressed interest in modeling the program in other areas of the country.
Additionally, Chief Gerst showed us two TU made videos. One deals with emergency preparedness and the other specifically with Active Shooter events. Eventually both videos may be available on the Towson University website.
We had twelve Towson Citizens on this tour, including a 10 year old boy. This young man was wide-eyed at every turn. Chief Gerst aimed his closing remarks directly at him. He told the young man to get a good education, always give a 110%, stay away from drugs, never get yourself in trouble, respect all people, keep physically in shape and some day you could be a good officer like the people who work at Towson University.
For more information see website: https://www.towson.edu/publicsafety/police.