What does Public Safety really do? by Sophia Apolinario

“People watch movies about cops and even look at the news, and think that that’s what cops do. But it’s not. If I had the power in the total education system, I think it would be mandatory for public safety to talk to students about what our job entails and how we could help each other.”

                                                                               -Chief William Palmini of NDNU Public Safety

Public Safety officers are often seen walking around campus, but do students really know what they do? Sophomore Shaina Acosta believes, “Public Safety takes their position seriously,” but if given the chance, she would “want to know more details about what they do other than write-ups.”

To avoid confusion between the roles of resident assistants and Public Safey, St. Joseph 2ndfloor RA Sydney Whynot says, “If Public Safety gets a noise complaint, they normally send us to deal with it.” However, if the issue is more serious, RAs call Public Safety. “If it is a bigger issue, like a party or alcohol or marijuana, RAs call Public Safety because we aren’t allowed to do anything with it [alcohol or drugs]. Otherwise, Public Safety aren’t involved with write ups.”

Whynot also distinguishes the difference between being documented and written up, saying, “They are two different things. Written up is when us RAs or Public Safety officers have a conversation with students about something they did wrong or weren’t allowed to be doing. We then take their ID and get information so we may write a report that goes to the dean. This goes to huge group of people part of student conduct process, and they decide what then happens to them and if they’re to blame for it, as well as what the next step would be. They could either call the students in, or decide a punishment for it. It becomes a documentation if they get called in for it, and they would know this if they get an email from the assistant dean saying that they need to schedule a meeting with a conduct officer.”

Public Safety consists of “8 full time officers, including myself and 3 to 4 part time officers,” says NDNU Public Safety Director William G. Palmini. They do “a lot of things on campus, including traffic flow, checking of the buildings, checking the parking lot so cars at night don’t get broken into, we’re service oriented,” according to Palmini. Public safety also does “welfare checks to check if there is a medical emergency so we can help them [students and staff] get an ambulance, first aid, or medical aid if they need it,” Palmini continues.

Public Safety enters residents’ room to ensure that “everyone is safe and uninjured,” not because they are “looking for reasons to enter a room.” Palmini questions students who think this asking, “Why would we want to enter someone’s room?” adding that every student on campus is entitled to their privacy. They even enter rooms when they, “get complaints about students leaving their food cooking and smoke goes off. All these different reasons to go into the room.”

Whenever Public Safety enters a resident’s room, Palmini says they are required to “document what we [public safety] see and write about the whole situation. From theft, to sexual abuse, to alcohol, and more.” According to him, there is an average of “2 to 3 cases a week regarding alcohol, noise or drugs.”

For whatever reason they enter the room, Palmini says Public Safety must document everything so that they may look back at these files in case something worse happens in the future, asserting, “that’s why we have to do a report to the Dean of Students it is a record of what occurred and what the investigation has led to.” Palmini also makes it clear that “if any of these violations becomes serious, we may contact the Belmont PD.” Fortunately, within the 8 months that Palmini has been with NDNU, he has only encountered the Belmont PD once to “assist us, not because our students did something wrong, but because off campus students.”

Palmini makes it clear that everything they do is for the well being of the NDNU community. “The first priority is safety and integrity,” he says. “We seek the safety of students and staff, and integrity of the campus itself. We do that on a 24 hour 7 days a week basis.” He further defends this by saying that Public Safety is here to “serve out students, for they are our clients.”

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