The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Securing the safety

It seems the talk of the University this semester so far is the New Founder’s townhouses and how unique they are compared to other residence buildings on campus. One way they vary from other residence halls is the lack of Public Safety at the entranceway.

The Public Safety worker or guard at the front desk of residence hall dorms enforces visitation polices, and other Public Safety officers are visible all night, patrolling each hallway and lounge. However, there is no Public Safety desk monitoring the entrance way of the townhouses.

In the new townhouses, the security is not as noticeable, but still prevalent as ever.

According to Lt. Ralph Pascullo, Training Coordinator for the Department of Public Safety, there are 60 full time Public Safety officers.

Sixty-five percent of them are veterans of the New York Police Department, according to Pascullo. “With a large percentage of our staff having at least 20 years of experience, it is something you cannot buy,” said Pascullo said.

In the residence village alone, there are three permanent full time officers, patrolling 24-7. These officers who are perform verticals (walk throughs) twice per tour, equaling up to six in a twenty-four hour span.

“This does not even include the Public Safety officers that are in other locations and supervisors who also have to perform one tour each,” said Pascullo. Public Safety officers who survey the buildings are instructed to not stick to a schedule so their rounds will not be predicted.

This also pertains to the townhouses. Along with the ever-patrolling Public Safety guards, there are 18 security cameras located throughout the townhouses in the courtyards, stairways, and balconies. In order to get into the stairway leading up to the apartments, residents must swipe their storm cards.

According to Denise Venchak, Executive Director of Public Safety, the door did not lock automatically the first few days of school because of issues with construction, but these were quickly remedied.

Public Safety also will rely on resident assistants, resident directors, and the students themselves to observe any strange or reckless behavior.

They do not have any major concerns about the students living in the townhouses. “Students in the new housing are under the honor system, and must remember that all of the same rules in the other residence halls apply to them also,” Venchak said.

According to Pascullo, the most prevalent type of campus crime is larceny, primarily students from students.

“Most of the petty theft that happens occurs when students leave their belongings out in the open while they leave to get something else, Pascullo said. It can be prevented if students brought all valuable items with them before leaving an area,” Pascullo said.

He added “most of the times, due to surveillance cameras and residence life, items are returned to their rightful owner. You will not see any crimes against persons at St. John’s University.”

Public Safety has tips for students to stay safe on and around campus. “A lot of these tips are just from using common sense,” said Pascullo.

The most important piece of advice, according to Pascullo, is to travel in groups.

Walking alone makes a person more vulnerable to attack since they may not be as vigilant to their surroundings. Many who travel alone listen to their MP3 player, oblivious to what is going on around them.

Keep all valuable possessions hidden and secured. Many students are usually rushing to and from class, and forget to zip their book bags and purses. Also make sure that there is no loose money hanging out of purses and pockets.

Being aware of your surroundings may sound trivial, but it is something that many people forget about in the moment.

“Being aware of what street corner you are at is important in case there is a need to make a 911 call in a hurry,” Pascullo said.
When walking, make sure to stay close to the curb instead of buildings.

“It is harder for a person to be pulled into a car on the street than a building or alleyway,” said Pascullo.

With the addition of a new style of living, Public Safety has nothing but positive thoughts.

“We have always had a good relationship with the student body,” Pascullo said. “The buildings are a beautiful addition.”

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