UR Public Safety has implemented a new Adopt-A-Hall program in order to “bridge the gap between students and public safety”, according to Public Safety Lieutenant Bill List, who was instrumental in the program’s conception and execution. The Adopt-A-Hall Program assigns each residential hall its own Public Safety officer, providing Residential Advisors (RAs) and residents with contact information and familiarity with their designated officer.
The program’s formal plan states several goals which focus on improving efficiency, understanding, and communication between students and public safety. “We’re trying to change from a reactive department that just answers complaints to a proactive department,” Public Safety Chief Mark Fischer said of the new system.
Boards are being displayed in residential halls to provide a casual, approachable photo of its designated officer and to provide resources and safety tips to students. List attributed the need for the program to students’ apparent hesitation to report incidents such as larceny. List and Fischer stressed the importance of students feeling comfortable enough with Public Safety to notify officers when things go wrong. “When you see the same person all the time […] the Public Safety officer becomes a human being to you […]” Fischer said.
Senior and RA Anjali Patel commented on the perception students have of Public Safety and how the program will affect it. “I think that it’s a great way to let students know that security isn’t just about arresting someone or getting someone in trouble,” Patel said. She also commented on the influx of younger officers. “They are people who are pretty much our age, and they’re trying to just be more friendly.”
The heads of Public Safety brought the idea for the program to the attention of Executive Director of Residential Life and Housing Services Laurel Contomanolis and Dean of the College Richard Feldman at the beginning of 2014 last semester.
“My main role was to express support for the general idea and to encourage the development of the program,” Feldman said. “The general idea […] came up several years ago. It became increasingly clear that it was a good idea, and more recently […] Public Safety began working out the details.”
List communicated with Syracuse University to replicate their program, which is similar because they have a Peace Officer organization like the University’s. When asked about potential obstacles to the success of the program, List and Fischer said the only possibility would be students’ reservations about bridging the gap between themselves and Public Safety.
Officers have been assigned to halls based on their interest in the program and the location of their deployment across Rochester.
McAdams is a member of the class of 2017.