In response to various concerns about the Department of Public Safety recently, junior Aaron Malin, president of the Student Association, is hoping to clear up some of the confusion among the student body about DPS.
The newly elected Student Senate leader presented an executive order at Sunday’s Senate meeting establishing the Department of Public Safety Student Senate Oversight Committee.
Malin said the committee’s objectives include clarifying DPS’s jurisdiction and priorities and improving services, such as parking.
Malin said one example of confusion occurred after a drug search in the residence halls earlier during the semester.
The committee members are anonymous, but Malin appointed former senator, senior Michael Baharaeen as the committee’s chair, the one public position.
Baharaeen said he plans to communicate with students who have expressed concerns or confusion about DPS, and talk to DPS officers and administration about their role and how they might be able to improve the department.
Baharaeen said the committee will likely develop a survey gauging student opinions about DPS in addition to giving a presentation next fall which will be open to the student body.
Public Safety Director Tom Johnson said he is excited to work with the committee.
“It’s good to know that there are people interested in what we do and that we can improve things,” he said.
Johnson said DPS’s top priority always has been to provide a safe learning environment at Truman State, but said the Public Safety Department also has concurrent jurisdiction with the city of Kirksville.
“Basically, we’re able to enforce traffic laws on streets in and around campus because those are city streets, and without the commissions we would have a more difficult time doing that,” he said.
Johnson said he has heard a rumor that claims DPS has a quota of minor in possession charges to fill.
“Our officers have better things to do than to just look for underage drinking,” he said. “Obviously, we’re going to enforce it if we find it or hear of it, but we’re not standing there waiting to trap somebody when they are coming back to their dorm.”
Johnson said DPS does communicate with the Truman community when necessary through email and an emergency text messaging system, a free service that can be activated by signing up through TruView.
He said DPS has presentations available as well on its website, www.police.truman.edu, to educate people about the department.
“We’re here to serve the community, so we do what we can to keep that current, keep that up to date and we want to do the best job we can do,” he said.