Just because the campus has mostly been evacuated does not mean that it no longer requires a police force to oversee its wellbeing.
Campus police are still on duty full-time, just as usual and no factor is going to change that.
“Even if the university closed campus completely, officers would still have to patrol campus and check buildings on a routine basis to ensure security of property,” Bill Persinger, executive director of Public Relations and Marketing, said.
The university is not completely closed down. There are still workers on campus who are essential to the upkeep and health of the institution’s body—food services, physical plant staff, custodians and housing staff. There are also still students in some of the dormitories.
“Because there are still people and facilities on campus that must be protected, officers continue to work full-time rotating three shifts protecting campus 24 hours per day,” Persinger said.
Unique to these particular times, the APSU police force has been instrumental in enforcing the governmental guidelines of social distancing and other imperatives to make the campus safe from COVID-19.
“APSU police has the authority to enforce the orders from the Governor regarding social distancing, as well as orders from the local mayors and president,” Persinger said.
That’s two presidents—President Alisa White of APSU and President Donald Trump.
Of course, enforcing the social distancing protocol has not been the central problem for the campus police.
In fact, the APSU police force has not had to deal with as many problems that they would usually have deal with due to the shutdown.
According to the APSU police crime log of April 23, between the dates of March 23 (the day that all classes were shifted to online format) and April 12, a total of seven offenses have been committed on campus. That is over a period of 21 days and shows that the rate of crime has lowered some due to the major absence of people on campus.
According to the same log, from Jan. 25 to Feb. 25, within a period of 16 days between them, 21 offenses were committed.
“It [the shutdown] has reduced overall crime and student discipline issues, as well as parking and traffic enforcement related issues,” Persinger said.
The police frequently communicate with APSU hierarchy to see what needs to be done.
Chief Sammy Williams, who has been chief since July 2019, oversees police officers and security personnel. He coordinates with Michael Kasitz, former APSU police chief and assistant vice president of safety.
Michael Kasitz is now chairman of the APSU COVID-19 task force.
Kasitz is currently focused on policies related to campus safety.
“Currently he is primarily focused on COVID-19 response as head of the task force. Part of being head of Public Safety involves handling emergency and crisis response and like most universities, COVID-19 is the most disruptive issue APSU has faced,” Persinger said.
From there, Kasitz is in connection with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and the President’s Campus to make major decisions on this issue.
With all of this comradery, the APSU police force definitely has allies to help enforce the force’s values—Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. To learn about COVID-19 protocol on campus, go to https://www.apsu.edu/coronavirus/.