By Katelyn Stemrich
Two tickets in one weeks makes it easy to point fingers at Public Safety, assuming that they are ticketing you at the expense of their quota. But a look inside of the department debunks the many rumors surrounding Public Safety…
1. They’re aren’t even real cops: While it is true that the majority of the public safety officials are not sworn police officers, they do have decorated backgrounds. One was a military police officer. One of the officers is a Saint Mike’s alumni and another is a current graduate student. Director of Public Safety, Doug Babcock, continues his police career as a sworn officer with Winooski PD. The spectrum of experiences ranges from mixed martial arts instructor to retired special cases investigator with 30+ years on the force. Their combine skills, and colorful backgrounds, makes them a capable team of officers whose sole purpose is to ensure community safety.
2. They issue so many tickets because they have to meet a quota: Ticket quotas are illegal, even for police departments. Public Safety receives no incentives and has no requirements for the number of tickets issued. Believe it or not, enforcing parking is mainly to benefit the students. If you paid for a permit for Main Campus, North Campus cars shouldn’t be taking your spot. Also ticketing is actually down this year! There have been 850 LESS tickets given to date in comparison to last year.
3. All the money from citations and disciplinary fines only benefits them A common misconception is that all the money from parking tickets, citations and fire safety violations go right into a fund for public safety. In reality, all the money is received by student activities. Public Safety does not make any money by issuing citations. Student Life uses the money for a variety of different events for the student body. Aside from fire safety fines and parking violations, Public Safety is generally not responsible for any disciplinary outcomes. The principal determinant for deciding and issuing disciplinary action is Student Life.
4. The have no real training: The short answer is, yes they do have legitimate training. Our Public Safety officials must complete a series of courses before becoming an officer and are required to continue maintenance and recertification training throughout the year. Officers must be certified in CPR, use of OC pepper spray and have self defense training. In addition to these physical courses, Public Safety is involved with bias training, diversity and inclusion seminars. This year, the department attended a training to further their understanding of implicit and unconscious biases. Many of the requirements are consistent with many police department in the state. The department receives an extensive amount of training to ensure capability and professionalism.
5. They are out to get us: It is Public Safety’s fundamental job to ensure safety in the community through the provision of services. These services are not limited to enforcing overcapacity policies and ticketing but also to responding to the student who is in respiratory distress or someone who has been experiencing suicidal tendencies. While a 45 person capacity limit seems strict, in the event of an emergency, the number of people in danger matters substantially. The 45 person capacity limit is actually state law. By enforcing and complying with state laws, Public Safety protects students while also keeping state officials from coming to campus to enforce themselves. These officers have dedicated their time and energy in service and partnership with students even if it doesn’t always seem that way.
To complete my Crime and Justice minor, I applied for an internship with Public Safety. Having been in every situation with Pub Safe during my four years, I wanted to experience campus from their perspective. This opportunity has proven invaluable and one article cannot even begin to highlight all of the misconceptions I once believed about these wonderful people. I hope students will be less apprehensive to approach the officers and build relationships with them.
Katelyn Stemrich ‘19 is a crime and justice minor and has an internship with Public Safety this spring.