FORT COLLINS, COLO. In a bid to make the campus safer, Colorado State University has hired five additional campus police officers who will be assigned to patrol dormitories.
The officers will patrol the dorms to get to know the students and, it's hoped, deter any criminal activity, said Sgt. Ed Bozic, watch commander.
Police Chief Dexter Yarbrough said having officers in dorms not only increased visibility, but also familiarized officers with day-to-day activity. "It allows us to keep a finger on the pulse of what's going on," he said.
Yarbrough said hiring additional officers, increasing visibility and redistributing some duties were steps taken by the CSU police department in recent months to increase safety on campus.
Bozic said the changes allowed the department to take a more proactive approach to crime on campus.
"It's up to the watch commander to make sure as many of the halls as possible are covered and as much time as possible is spent in them," he said. "Ideally, students will get comfortable with the officers and will come to them with personal problems, not just crime."
Most students didn't know about the police patrols, but still endorsed them.
"It's a good thing to build relationships," said freshman Tanner Kokemuller. "Everyone has a bad stereotype of police. This helps get rid of the bad vibe ... it shows kids that they'll be around if something bad happens."
Freshman Amanda Rauhauser said the increased visibility would work as a deterrent.
"You never know when you're going to see (an officer)," she said. "It increases the safety factor, just as long as it doesn't get too invasive," she said. "It's good to know they (the police) aren't there just to get you in trouble."
That perception is what the department aims for.
"Hopefully, if any problems come up, they (the students) feel comfortable coming to the officers," Bozic said. He noted that officers also can help point students to resources for mental health, substance abuse, roommate and other problems.
"We want them to know we're there to assist in any way we can," he said, "not just with crime."