Most people can handle keeping themselves safe, relatively speaking anyway. Others take on the safety of their spouse, children and maybe a pet or two. Still, others take on the safety of about 56,000 people just down the road. That is the feat of the University of Central Florida Public Safety and Police Department.
Through their extensive initiatives, the UCF Police Department allows for the campus to be a secure environment for its students. Sergeant Troy Williamson, community relations supervisor for the UCF Police Department, has been on the force at the school for 27 years. He says that one of the most important things they do is provide education to students about safety. “We want to educate as much as possible,” Williamson says. “We want to do all that we can to get these students from orientation to graduation.”
The various programs offered cover everything from protecting personal property to staying safe during spring break. One of the more popular classes offered – Self defense Awareness, Familiarization, and Exchange – is a class intended to teach women how to prevent being attacked. One of the instructors of the two-hour class, Officer Jeannette Emert, says the class is for beginners looking for an introduction to self defense. “The hope is that it encourages them to go on to bigger and better programs,” Emert says.
UCF also offers its students with a Safe Escort Patrol Service (SEPS), which runs Sunday through Thursday from 7p.m. to 1a.m. Students, faculty and staff members can utilize this service to get a free and safe ride across the main campus after dark. This past March there were over 700 UCF Knights who took advantage of the SEPS service.
One of the most important things the UCF Police Department does to ensure safety is the UCFALERT. This multi-media communication system arrives in the hands of students and faculty through the form of text messages or emails and provides accurate updates about emergency situations impacting the university – whether it be extreme weather or bomb threats.
A majority of crimes that occur on campus are property burglaries, but the police department is prepared for large scale disasters as well if need be. In preparation of the possibility of a school shooting, members of the UCF Police Department go to the shooting range at least twice a year for a whole day to practice firing. “It’s important to send a message to students that they are safe on this campus,” Williamson says.
The UCF Police Department has grown considerably, even over just the last several years. They moved to their new and improved headquarters this past October, which even still has left plenty of room to grow. Officers on the force has also increased as the campus population has continued to grow over the years.
Thanks their relationship with other Sheriff’s Offices, the UCF Police Department has a constant stream of information. “It’s important that we be in communication with other Sherriff’s offices in the area because a student is a student 24 hours a day,” Williamson says. “Without this Police Department being here, Orange County would have their hands full,” Williamson says. “We take care of our area and we know how to do it better than anyone else. It’s UCF and we know our students, our campus and our community.”
Article by Katelyn Schmidt