On Wednesday evening in the ballroom of LaFortune, concerned members of the student body gathered to listen, ask questions, and raise concerns to a panel of representatives from different law enforcement bodies that protect the students at Notre Dame.
The panel was comprised of representatives from the St. Joseph County Police, South Bend Police Department, Mishawaka Police Department, Indiana Excise Police, and Notre Dame Security Police.
The program began with a welcome from Student Council President Lauren Vidal and Vice President Matt Devine, who helped to coordinate the event along with Sgt. Tracy Skibins of NDSP. Each panel member introduced him or herself and said a few words on their thoughts and suggestions regarding Notre Dame student safety.
Mr. Michael Seamon, Associate Vice President for Campus Safety, spoke first. He emphasized the importance of student safety and encouraged students to listen to and cooperate with law enforcement, suggesting that often conflicts can be resolved relatively easily through discussion and mutual effort. He also stressed the fact that officers are not trying to get students in trouble – they only want to ensure their safety.
The other officers present were Chief Decker of St. Joe County, Sgt. Ally Taylor of Indiana Excise, Chief Korros of NDSP, Lt. Williams of the Mishawaka Police Department, and Chief Ruskowski and Lt. Hechlinski, both of the South Bend Police Department. The officers expressed their genuine concern with the well-being and protection of the students of Notre Dame. They gave students safety tips such as to remember to never walk alone, and also reiterated that they don’t want to write tickets but if challenged they will do what’s necessary.
Lt. Williams reminded the student body that the last thing an officer ever wants to do is to call a parent and tell them that their son or daughter won’t ever be coming home. They want to protect students, but that means they need cooperation as well.
After each officer shared some insight, students were able to anonymously submit questions for them to answer. The general tips the officers emphasized were the following:
· Don’t walk alone.
· If you’re a senior off campus having a party, have a designated sober spokesperson.
· Signs that read “you must be over 21 to drink” are not safety nets against police officers.
· Watch out for each other.
· Most importantly, remember that cooperating, being respectful, being honest, and following the directions of police officers will solve 99% of issues.
If you have any questions on campus safety, contact NDSP. If you ever have an emergency dial 911 from a landline phone or 574-631-5555. If at anytime you feel unsafe you can call the 574 number and either O’SNAP or a police officer will come to your location and take you where you need to be. Be safe, keep an eye on each other, and remember that all safety officials are working to the best of their ability to ensure that you are free from harm both on and off this campus.