Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Public Safetly Rebrands, Reaches Out

    When walking around campus, it is common to see the recognizable bright red and black jacket uniforms of Seattle University’s Public Safety officers nearby either walking around or zipping by on their segways.

    It is also common to see Tim Marron, Director of Public Safety chatting with students, faculty and staff. The change in uniform, but especially his personal, transparent approach in building relationships with the Seattle U community, helped change the way others view the Public Safety Department.

    Since taking over the helm of Public Safety, Marron revamped the department and reevaluated its purpose. By shifting the focus from student conduct to student safety, Public Safety has made strides towards improving its practices regarding campus safety. Now, Marron is working to further develop a healthy relationship among the department, its officers and the Seattle U community by opening up a dialogue between his department and students.

    “There has been the recognition that we are in the middle of a big city and that there is substantial crime in our urban area. As a result, we had to address concerns regarding whether [Public Safety] was doing as much as it could, within a reasonable budget, to address safety concerns,” Marron said. “I think a lot of our officers were spending a lot of their time focusing on conduct issues, rather than safety concerns.”

    Public Safety has been in the ongoing process of refocusing its attention on student safety concerns, rather than student conduct. Accordingly, Marron believes this will help to break down the perception of Public Safety officers as sources of judgment, rather than help.

    Marron is also working to develop the connection of his department with the university by stressing trust and honesty within the community.

    “In emergency services, there has been a huge push over the last 20 years for more partnership and transparency within a community… that emergency services aren’t above the public, they are the public,” Marron said. “When somebody sees a red Public Safety uniform—especially when that somebody is a student—I want them to think of that officer as a source of hope, rather than of judgment.”

    Student Body President Eric Sype spoke to the importance of dialogue between authority figures and the student body, citing examples of progress spurred by student voices in this year alone.

    “There are two major things at the student government level that have been brought to fruition directly from student feedback, one of those being the expansion of the Night Hawk program. We now have expanded services with six cars that are environmentally friendly, given that the [Nissan Leaf] has less impact than the old Ford Escapes,” Sype said. “Further, over the summer, there has been partnership between Public Safety, [the Grounds Department] and Facilities to increase lighting on campus. These are examples of things that students have brought to the table that the university has taken a look at in order to improve student experience here.”

    These renovations are the types of issues Public Safety has been able to address in direct response to student concern about things that could be improved.

    “Those sorts of things are very helpful,” Marron said of the issues raised by students. “When the community comes together and students identify things that are issues, whether it’s a path that’s too dark at night, or a bush that blocks a walkway, it’s very helpful.”

    The changes brought on by dialogue between Pubic Safety and the Seattle U community have been relatively minor, but they already seem to be paying dividends for the student body.

    “I really like the new Night Hawk cars,” said sophomore Amy Clark. “I use that program a lot on the weekends and I feel like having more cars available has made the service move a bit faster. Plus, they are supposed to be more environmentally friendly than our old ones, which is pretty cool.”

    The growth of the Night Hawk program is also meant to help students further practice safe behavior in a major metropolitan city like Seattle. Freshman Charles Hibber spoke to the importance of developing these safe behavioral practices early on in his college career.

    “I come from a pretty small town in Northern California, so moving to a city has been very different,” Hibber said. “I have to remember to be mindful about my environment and remember to go about my business as safely as possible and I feel like having access to and using safe transportation is a great first step.”

    Marron believes that desire and opportunity create crime. While he believes we cannot do anything about criminals, there is still something we can do to be more safe.

    “If we can continue to come together as a community and continue to take away opportunity from criminals, whether it be by reporting a suspicious person or maintaining vigilance over property in the library, then we can continue to cut down on campus crime and further increase campus safety,” Marron said.

    Will may be reached at [email protected]

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