by Dominique Townsend
It seems like the only time you hear from them is if you get that ugly neon orange ticket stuck under the windshield wiper on your car. Many students don’t even know where their office is located on campus. But with crazy clown sightings becoming more and more prevalent every day, it’s as important as ever to know who public safety is and how they can help you.
“We’re really an under-used resource,” Director and Chief of Public Safety Sean Westenrider says. He’s dressed in what looks like police uniform and straightens a plaque behind the counter, stating that Public Safety has passed some sort of inspection or certification. So what kinds of things can Public Safety help you with? Westenrider mentions battery jump starts, dispatching emergency vehicles, sponsoring the jujitsu club and offering women's’ self-defense classes as a few of the services Public Safety boasts, also indicating another framed document on the wall which outlines more offered options. Among others, this list also includes “Night Escort Services,” particularly useful if you live in Nichol or McReynolds Hall and feel uncomfortable walking back after dark, “Tire Changing Services,” and “Vehicle Lockout Services.” However, these services seem to be contingent on time.
Public Safety’s business hours from 8AM to 4PM Monday through Friday, but do not include any weekend hours. Westenrider did explain that before school starts (presumably during the summer break), Public Safety also holds Sunday hours from 1 to 4 PM, and said that they have tried extending hours in the past, but found that no one came in later than 4, so maintaining the extended hours was not cost effective and therefore dropped. While this is understandable as we live in uncertain times in terms of finances, unfortunately, accidents and emergencies tend not to occur during set business hours. Westenrider emphasized that if there is an emergency, Public Safety will dispatch a patrol officer--as long as there is one on duty, which does not seem to be the case for weekend hours.
Luckily, these patrol officer positions are open to student involvement, and are hiring right now. While Westenrider said not many students attempt to get involved with campus safety, it seems to be a relatively easy position to apply and be eligible for. The main requirements include being able to pass a background check and completing licensure, which Public Safety will help applicants accomplish. Westenrider also emphasized that if student schedules really do not lend themselves to the Public Safety hours posted, you can call them to work out an appointment time that works for your schedule. This also includes repeat parking citations.
Public Safety can be an important student resource on such a secluded campus, and they offer many useful services for students in a pinch. Remember, if you feel unsafe anywhere on campus, get to a public, well-illuminated place and call for help. The number for Public Safety after hours emergency dispatch is (707) 965-7111, and their business-hours contact information can be found under Campus Services on the PUC website. But try not to have any emergencies over the weekend hours that you can’t resolve yourself, because you’ll get no help from Public Safety until Monday morning.