‘Your Safety is our Goal’ presentations help educate about situational awareness | The Triangle

‘Your Safety is our Goal’ presentations help educate about situational awareness

Photo courtesy: Lt. Dave Caristo

For Drexel University’s Department of Public Safety, establishing their presence on campus is a top priority. Among their most recent efforts to selflessly serve the Drexel community is a series of informative presentations called “Your Safety is our Goal,” aimed at educating about safety and situational awareness for all.

“[The presentations] talk about Public Safety programs, who we are, and why you might want to call Drexel Public Safety instead of the Philadelphia [police department],” community relations police officer Kim McClay said. An emphasis is placed on services Drexel’s Public Safety can provide to all community members on and off campus at all times.

The creation of these informative, interactive presentations came about in January as Drexel welcomed a slew of new students to its campus amid a time of increased violent crime, community relations police officer Thomas Cirone said, and they have grown in popularity over the past six months.

With a focus on overall situational awareness, the “Your Safety is our Goal” presentations compile many of the Department of Public Safety’s more specific efforts, like personal and property safety, programs such as the Drexel Guardian App and Rape Aggression Defense classes and Drexel’s alcohol amnesty policy, among others.

“We hope [to teach] a skillset that people can learn and take with them,” McClay said of the presentations.

“We tell [attendees] that everything we are showing, teaching you here is stuff you can use everywhere, even back in your hometown,” Cirone said.

While Cirone and McClay spearheaded efforts to create the “Your Safety is our Goal” presentation, they said several other members of Drexel’s staff play essential roles in educating through the presentation. Among these are David Hollinger, Director of Fire and Emergency Services and Amy Spiller, Victim Services Coordinator.

Cirone and McClay prioritize educating Drexel’s student population on these issues, but they target staff, as well.

“We do [these presentations] upon request, for both students and staff,” Cirone said. “We have dates scheduled to present once per month, usually toward the end of the month, and also offer varied times to make it accessible to all.”

McClay explained that the presentation can be tailored specifically to whom they are presenting. As an example, an emphasis was placed on discussing Drexel’s alcohol amnesty policy during a run of the presentation to a student group.

At the forefront of the presentation series is making students and staff aware of the amazing resource they have in Public Safety. Cirone and McClay encourage all Drexel community members to save (215) 895-2222 in their cell phone contacts to quickly contact Drexel Police when needed.

“Besides being 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, call [Drexel Public Safety] because we know the campus inside and out,” McClay said. “If someone calls and says [they need help] at [Lancaster Walk] or the Dragon statue, the city [police department] is not going to know what that means, but we will know exactly… we know the things unique to Drexel.”

Members of the Drexel community can also utilize the Drexel Guardian App to connect with Drexel Public Safety. The app has a button to connect with the department via a phone call or through a text messaging service, which can be even done anonymously.

When contacting Public Safety, you have every right to stay anonymous, Cirone said. This does not lessen the seriousness of the issue, and dispatch will not be upset.

Of course, Public Safety prefers knowing the name of the reporter in the event a follow-up is needed, but the most important thing is having the information, McClay said. So, it is important to always contact the department when necessary, even anonymously.

“We want to know what is going on on our campus,” McClay said, “and each person is going to know their specific area better [than us].”

According to Cirone and McClay, something members of the Drexel community may not know is that Public Safety is always a resource, even when you are not on campus.

“We will never, ever turn you away,” Cirone said. If you make a call to Public Safety when off campus, “[dispatch] will keep you on the line while another dispatcher notifies Philly PD to get you help.”

“If you are a Drexel student [or staff member], we will always help you,” McClay said.

Another important topic discussed in the presentation series is theft, which is consistently the number one crime committed on campus.

“It is usually a crime of opportunity,” McClay said. “You don’t want to always assume everyone is a lawful citizen.”

According to Cirone and McClay, good practices to prevent theft include not leaving valuables unattended, securing bikes and other property with heavy duty locks and utilizing Public Safety’s property registration program.

An urban campus will be susceptible to urban issues, McClay said. “It is a safe campus, but you need to be aware of your surroundings. What we don’t want people to say is ‘Oh, I wish I had known, if somebody had mentioned that.’ We are trying to get ahead of that [with these presentations], to get on the offense.”

Cirone and McClay also encouraged the use of the safe transaction zone offered by Public Safety. When buying or selling an item, the in-person exchange can be done in this safe, well-lit and monitored area.

Another topic covered by Public Safety in the “Your Safety is our Goal” presentations is active shooter training, which Cirone and McClay say is something not talked about enough.

“Now is the time to think about what you would do [in the event of an active shooter situation], not when it happens,” McClay encouraged. “With predatory violence, every second counts. If you have a plan ahead of time, you won’t have to waste time thinking in the moment, and you can immediately take action.”

Cirone and McClay said that their involvement in this area has gone as far as working with architects of new buildings on campus to address design flaws that would be dangerous in active shooter situations.

“We [have asked] whether they take precautions into account [in the design], and they usually say ‘no’,” McClay explained.

Cirone said glass designs, which are featured in many new buildings, are aesthetically appealing but do not provide adequate protection in the event of an active shooter.

Dr. Mary Gallagher Gordon, Vice Dean of Strategic Operations and Academic Services in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, is even taking these steps into account to design the layout of space in a new building, Cirone said.

“[Gallagher Gordon] thought ahead [after our presentation] about how they can plan for this situation,” McClay said.

While the “Your Safety is our Goal” presentation series also addresses many other topics, McClay said the opportunity for questions at the end is especially helpful.

Cirone and McClay are glad to see the turnout of both students and staff at these presentations, and will continue educating about these important safety measures. They continually encourage all members of the Drexel community to be involved and utilize Public Safety as a resource in any time of need.

“We’re here for the Drexel community at all times, so use us,” Cirone encouraged.

“Safety is always a shared responsibility, and we can’t do it all by ourselves,” McClay said. “So, we are asking people to be engaged for their own safety, and to assist us in keeping our campus safe.”

For more information, or to ask about scheduling a “Your Safety is our Goal” presentation, members of the Drexel community are encouraged to contact community relations officers Thomas Cirone at [email protected] and Kim McClay at [email protected].

All members of the Drexel community are continually encouraged to save (215) 895-2222 in their phone contacts to quickly get in touch with Public Safety 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year.