In A New Program, Southeast DPS Officers Are A “Surrogate” Family For Students

Sep 11, 2019

With hopes of connecting to more students on campus and influencing positive relationships, Southeast’s Department of Public Safety launched the Adopt-a-Hall program to make DPS officers more available to students.

Most infamously known for ticket writing, it’s safe to say DPS sometimes gets a bad rep among students. The Adopt-a-Hall program is one effort to change the negative perspective students may have about the department.

The program is a collaborative effort between DPS and Residence Life, with the goal of providing a safe and open atmosphere in the residence halls while building trust with students.

Two officers chose a residence hall to adopt based on their interests, whether they wanted to be in the Greek Life residence halls, with sports teams or freshmen.

These officers will work closely with Resident Assistants and Hall Directors while being able to attend residence hall programs, go on rounds with RA’s and even assist in hosting programs offered by DPS. Some of those programs include the Whistle Program, Alcohol and Drug Awareness and Self Defense Classes.

Director of the Department of Public Safety Beth Glaus expressed the importance of DPS officers being present in the residence halls.

“They’re all well-trained professionals who love Southeast, love our students and want to interact with them on more things than we have to, like parking tickets or when things go wrong,” Glaus said. “I have long believed that developing networks early when it’s not necessary helps when those networks are needed when it becomes necessary.”

While there are two officers who will be seen consistently in the residence halls they adopt, officers will continue to patrol and respond to calls.

Crime Prevention and Patrolman Officer Jyothi Dirnberger gave examples of when other officers will be present in halls that aren’t the ones they adopted.

“I have Laferla Hall, however, I can also go to other halls and walk around and make contacts and offer [students] programs,” Dirnberger said. “The two designated officers are just their main point of contact.”

Although residence halls are the main focus of the program, DPS also wants to connect with students who commute to class. In doing this, officers will also be walking through places like the University Center and some academic buildings.

Captain of Police Operations, Assistant Director of DPS and Transit Capt. Kenneth Gullett explained the increased presence of officers can keep everyone safe while also being a source of information for students who may have questions.

“This should help deter anyone who is contemplating doing harm,” Gullet said. “The uniformed officer is a walking billboard for the university.”

Gullet said he hopes these efforts will help bring students closer to DPS, like a family.

“We are surrogate parents, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and grandparents to the students who come here,” Gullet said. “Although sometimes all students see us do is writing tickets, that’s not all we do.”

To learn more about the programs offered through DPS and other information, visit semo.edu/dps or call the non-emergency number at (573) 651-2215.