November 26, 2020

‘Prevention better than a cure’

In an opinion survey by Campus Safety Magazine, results showed that 51 percent of students and faculty felt their university’s public safety received enough training.

Liza Schulthesis has been a public safety officer at Webster University for 15 years. She said while it takes eight months of training to become a campus police officer, it only takes two days to become a public safety officer.

Public safety officers are also required to do annual training – 96 percent of which is medical, including CPR and AED (Automated External Defibrillator). According to Second Shift Supervisor Scott Patterson the rest of the training is a rough overview of report writing, patrol procedures, and ‘just basic security’. Schulthesis said the officers are the equivalent of a police officer on campus.

Webster University currently has 16 officers employed on campus, all trained by the St. Louis County Police Department-private security section. There are at least four officers on campus 24 hours a day, seven days week.

Public Safety Supervisor Nelson Saucedo said Webster’s Officers have good experience and most of them have been around for ten plus years.

“I’m lucky to have these guys. We’re all pretty much veterans. They’ve been here a long time. They know what they’re doing. They know what they got to do. I’m proud of that and glad for that,”  Saucedo said..

Public Safety tests the call boxes every Monday and Friday to make sure students can call in case of an emergency on campus. Officers try to be visible on campus for the students by walking around or riding their bikes. Second Shift Officer Tyler Fritz said the department works hard to stay ahead of the curve. “We believe in prevention as better than a cure,” Fritz said.

Along with the officers walking on campus, two officers are patrolling on bikes day and night. Steve Fooder, bike patrol officer, has been part of the public safety team for seven years. Officer Fooder and Heil say the bikes have an advantage because they cover the whole campus, not just one of the sections.

“When me and Steve are on the bikes, we’re all over. We’re not just tied down to one side,” Heil said.

Public Safety patrols not only the campus, but the community as well. Public Safety patrols through Old in case of emergencies like burglary or fires.

According to Campus Safety Magazine’s opinion survey, “nearly nine out of 10 survey takers (87 percent) say their public safety departments’ relationships with agencies from surrounding communities are well developed and fully functional.”

“We also answer calls for service out here [in Old Orchard]. We’re still responsible for this property as well,” Saucedo said.

Officer David Nelson said Webster Groves is a good, quiet, safe community and is a great location for Webster University.

“We have a petty theft here and there, and stealing but other than that, there are no violent crimes, so that’s very, very fortunate,” Heil said.

Public Safety strongly encourages anyone to call them if they are feeling unsafe, unsure, or if they need to report a crime.

Public Safety’s services include unlocking you’re vehicle if you lock your keys in your car, jump starting your car and escorting students and faculty to and from their class or car.

Officer David Heil, who has been an officer at Webster for 12 years and head of fire and safety specialist at Webster University, explained how the officers cover the 47 acres of Webster’s campus. Webster’s campus is divided into four sections, with two officers patrolling and ‘taking care’ of each section.

“And If he needs back up or assistance he’ll call for it,” Heil said.

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