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Escort service adds security at night

When it’s late at night, the usual route through campus to a desired destination may not seem so safe.

That’s why the University Department of Public Safety offers students, faculty and staff the buddy system to accompany them on their trek.

Through the campus Service Officer Program, students, faculty and staff can call the University police and ask for an escort to walk them to their destination, said Capt. Mike Campbell. The service runs every day from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.

“For any reason someone may feel uncomfortable walking on campus alone … this adds security and precaution,” Campbell said.

The program started in 1986 and currently consists of 11 service officers, said Sgt. Sean Beavers, who runs the program.

Some double up as officers, others are students, Beavers said.

Hiring students to do the job has mutual benefits.

“It helps the police department out because it frees us up for other calls,” Beavers said.

Aside from giving escorts, the service officers also jump start cars, unlock vehicles and unlock buildings, he said.

Sophomore Kate Beal used the escort service last month and said it made her night a lot easier.

Beal was at Founder’s Hall at 2 a.m. but needed to go to Falcon Heights.

“It was really dark outside and I didn’t feel like walking,” Beal said. “I thought it was a really good opportunity to have on campus.”

Though Beal said she was driven, Beavers said that service isn’t offered as much as before.

“People were abusing the system because they were too lazy to walk,” he said. “If it’s a serious injury or a security risk, they’ll give an escort to drive someone. But people were trying to get a free ride and that’s not what they are there for.”

While the stats for this fall are still being recorded, this past fall, 133 escorts were used, 34 vehicles were unlocked and 8 buildings were unlocked, Beavers said.

As of now, the service is restricted to campus. If people want an escort from the city, Campbell suggests walking with friends, arranging for transportation or using the shuttle service.

“The service was designed for campus use … as an extra layer of security on campus,” he said.

For people who are on campus, but somehow aren’t able to contact University police for an escort, Campbell suggested a few tips.

This included continuously surveying surroundings, walking with friends, walking with hands free in well lit areas and using the blue lights if being followed.

The number for the campus escort is 419-372-8360.

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