Two years after UNO Security Department changed its name to the UNO Department of Public Safety, students are still unaware.
“I don’t think people are informed on who is who and what is what,” student Brandon McDermott said. “We aren’t informed. If they are here to protect and serve us, which they certainly are, they should be here to inform us and help us understand who they are. I don’t think that process has been as great as it could be.”
Nothing happened on campus to prompt the name change. UNL has had a Police Department since the 1960s. UNO feels that as the campus grows, so should public safety. “We are transitioning and we want to be referred to as the Department of Public Safety,” police Chief Charlotte Evans said.
“We are a full department, which is why I was not interested in changing the name to Police Department. We could have, but there is so much more going on here besides police.”
The department currently has 27 officers responsible for patrol activities. This includes 20 campus security officers, also known as CSOs, as well as six police officers.
“The biggest difference is that security officers are not sworn, they do not have arrest powers,” Evans said. “They do respond to calls for service that are non-law enforcement calls and work very closely with the police in helping provide information.”
For many years the security officers were responding to every incident that occurred on campus. Now campus police can respond to service calls that law enforcement officers should be responding to.
Chief Evans declined to disclose exactly how many officers and CSOs are on campus at any given time.
“We have officers on campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Evans said. “We don’t employ the same amount of people every day of the week or on every shift.”
In addition the department is also responsible for building access, the campus camera systems, emergency preparedness, and dispatch. There are three full time dispatch employees. They are responsible for taking service calls, relaying detailed information to CSOs and officers as they respond to services, as well as updating the crime log daily, which all students have access to.
“We are here for the students, staff, faculty, the entire community and we want to make sure we are providing the safest environment possible,” Evans said. “We are extremely excited about having everyone back on campus.”
If you find yourself in immediate danger there are 42 Blue Light Emergency Phones throughout all of UNO’s campuses. If you witness a crime or other emergency, the campus emergency number is 554-2911. Anonymous tips can be texted to U-Tip by texting 50911. Text UNO911, followed by you message.