Foundation of Trust
KSU Police connecting with university community
KENNESAW, Ga. (Sep 18, 2019) — University Police are dedicated to keeping Kennesaw State’s two campuses safe, but their commitment to students, faculty, staff and visitors extends beyond conducting patrols and responding to calls.
The KSU Department of Public Safety and University Police is involved in a number of initiatives to build trust and relationships with the university community. Police Chief Edward Stephens considers that a priority in the unique environment of a college campus – particularly for Kennesaw State’s diverse student body.
“We can’t be here only to enforce the law and swoop in when there’s a problem,” Stephens said. “We are committed to do whatever we can to provide a safe community for our students – many of whom are away from home for the first time – and address any concerns they may have. They are here to learn, and we have to be a part of that educational process.”
University Police are connecting with the community through their CORE (Community Outreach, Recruitment and Engagement) Unit, an expansion of what previously was the Community Affairs division. One of CORE’s priorities is to provide opportunities for students interested in law enforcement careers, such as arranging internships or providing ride-alongs with officers on their patrols.
Most of all, KSU Police want to do “anything we can to get out and get in front of students, parents, faculty and staff,” Stephens said. For example, this month the department hosted Coffee with a Cop on both campuses, offering students coffee and donuts and the opportunity to ask officers questions, and conducted Pops with a Cop, a meet-and-greet over popsicles at a Residence Hall Association meeting.
Also, an annual tradition continued with KSU’s recent Campus Safety Day on the Marietta Campus. A second Campus Safety Day is set for September 19, on the Kennesaw Campus from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Helping students be successful during their time at Kennesaw State is one of our main goals,” Stephens said. “We get a new group every fall that turns around every four years, and we can have a lot of influence especially during their first year here. With on-campus programming and interactions with the students, we can provide guidance and keep them on the right track.”
Another step University Police are taking to be visible and accessible to the KSU community is increasing the number of bicycle patrols on both campuses. Five officers completed a bicycle patrol training course this year, bringing the department’s number of bike-certified officers to 16, according to Stephens.
Along with doing routine patrols, bicycle officers are being utilized to help manage gatherings of large crowds, such as events on the Campus Green and move-in days for on-campus housing. A benefit is that students, faculty and staff might feel more comfortable approaching a police officer who is on foot or on a bicycle rather than in a patrol car.
“Bicycle patrols are a perfect fit for a college campus,” Stephens said. “If all we’re doing is riding around in cars with the windows up, we’re not interacting and we’re not as approachable. People want to talk to you if you’re on a bike. So, by getting out and being more approachable, the students learn us and we learn them; they can share more, we can share more.”
That resonated with Demetrius Johnson, one of the students who visited the Department of Public Safety and University Police tent during the Marietta Campus Safety Day. He walked away impressed by Kennesaw State’s community policing efforts.
“I feel like it’s important for the police to form that relationship with students, to get more comfortable with us,” said Johnson, a freshman planning to major in mechanical engineering. “It’s very important for them to get in the community and talk to us.”
Kennesaw State’s public safety efforts are being recognized beyond its two campuses. KSU recently was ranked No. 14 nationally in the 100 Most Secure College Campuses in the U.S. report by ASecureLife.com. A team of security experts analyzed 10 years’ worth of data from hundreds of colleges in the United States to determine which schools have the lowest rates of property crime.
Stephens considers the recognition a team effort. He said that, regardless of which duties they have – patrol, investigations, community policing, victim services – KSU police officers all share a common objective.
“We all are community officers,” Stephens said.
Photography by David Caselli
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.