Under the leadership of Chief Joseph Marswillo, the NJIT Public Safety Department has planned, executed, and completed a number of projects whose objectives include increasing safety on campus, building an open and friendly rapport with the on-campus community, and increasing credibility as a department.
A few of these changes include updating the campus emergency number to 9-1-1, revamping the Traffic Safety Unit, wearing more visible uniforms, organizing guard tours across campus, offering volunteer opportunities to help students become more involved with the department, and applying to become an accredited police department.
In case of an emergency, students are now able to call 911 for help and be immediately connected the NJIT Public Safety Department, the closest response station to campus. This will aid in faster response times and help from officers that students will likely be familiar with.
“I think it’s really a great idea that we can call 911 and have NJIT respond to it. I didn’t know this wasn’t in place earlier but it’s great to hear that it is now,“ says second-year LTC major, Beshoy Shokralla.
The Traffic Safety Unit is a highly-specialized team of officers who are trained in various traffic-specific issues such as DUI and construction zone traffic. This comes after a great deal of traffic closings were initiated as a result of the ongoing construction across campus involving the York Science Center and the WEC. The unit will have a newly-designed SUV with bright branding indicating the name of the team very clearly.
All officers in the department will also be receiving extremely visible uniforms to wear at all times. The uniforms are laced with fluorescent yellow pinny fabric across the chest and back and down the pants rather. Officers will no longer have to wear the familiar fluorescent vest that they used to have to over their old uniforms.
With the addition of expensive new facilities on campus, safety and protection of property are a now a greater priority than ever. Officers will now be required to complete timely guard tours throughout various facilities on campus such as the newly renovated Central King Building. Sensor checkpoints will be placed in various locations over all floors of the building. Officers will have to tap a special device against these checkpoint sensors to record the time they were patrolling the area. They must get to all the checkpoints in a building within a particular time period for a particular number of times over each shift similar to how Resident Assistants do rounds in their residence halls.
Maliha Mathew, a second-year biology major is surprised but also happy at how much action public safety has taken. “This seems like a lot, maybe too much, but I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. I guess this also helps ensure that officers are moving about and not just standing around in one place.”
One of the greatest achievements of the NJIT Public Safety Department is that they are going to become an accredited police department in a little over a year when most departments take upwards of 2 years and even up to a decade. Chief Marswillo attributes this to the fact that “the department not only has campus safety in mind but also a great sense of community with the campus.” The process for becoming an accredited police department is a long and arduous one that many other departments simply do not complete.
“We want to be more visible on campus. We want to let people know, especially students, that we’re here for them,” says an elated Chief Marswillo.
The department also offers various community service opportunities including Cops & Crosswalks, a collaboration effort aiming to educate drivers and pedestrians on following traffic safety laws involving crosswalks. Another fairly campus-famous event is the monthly lighting survey during which students walk around campus with officers and fix broken lights in order to beautify and brighten campus. Students who show exceptional resolve in improving campus safety are awarded with a challenge coin, a coin designed by students, an honor bestowed upon students by the public safety department, and a tradition that started in the military.
In the coming weeks, from new uniforms to campus community events to guard tours, expect NJIT’s public safety department to become more visible all across campus thanks to new protocols as well as diligent efforts in multiply projects by Chief Marswillo and his team. Say hello to the officers and check out all of the new equipment as they filter in throughout campus.