THE DISPATCH The University of Scranton Police Department
IN THIS ISSUE: A Message from the Chief Policing During the Pandemic Spotlight: Student Officer Jess Lagas Quick Tip - Fall Driving Safety Emergency Planning and Response
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF by Chief Donald Bergmann
After the campus closed in March, we found ourselves alone, seemingly forgotten while everyone else worked remotely to finish out the 2019/20 academic year. It was eerily quiet patrolling a deserted campus. I was relieved when we began to see colleagues start to trickle back over the summer months in preparation for a fall semester opening. Crime stats have never been lower, but with the new health guidelines, our efforts shifted focus to ensuring students followed the Royal Safe Together guidelines. The first weekend back was concerning and would have been amusing if there wasn’t so much at stake as residents in the Hill Section, true to form, were hosting events in their front yards, flagrantly disregarding the University’s pleas to follow the guidelines.
Columnist Chris Kelly wrote in the Sept 9th issue of the Times Tribune, “Unfortunately, beer pong and social distancing don’t mix” and referenced eye witness accounts of rowdy behavior near the University of Scranton campus. Although the University refuted the account, clearly Scranton’s eyes were on us. When SUNY Oneonta posted 670 positive cases, students acknowledged that partying was irresponsible, but claim the school did nothing to provide oversight. We recognized then we would be in the challenging position of ensuring offcampus residents were following the guidelines. Local residents were quick to call on those who they suspected were hosting, regardless if the students were following the guidelines or not. It became even more challenging once those who continued to disregard the guidelines became more covert.
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Fortunately most students were responsible enough to carefully abide by the guidelines. I was both surprised and relieved when an offcampus student anonymously dropped off a note and small token of her appreciation, recognizing us for our efforts in the Hill. Dr. Davis continues to express his gratitude for everyone’s efforts as colleagues deliver meals for students in isolation and play host to residents at the Retreat Center who are in quarantine. We are nearing the end of the semester and see the light at the end of the tunnel. In spite of our staffing shortages, everyone has remained positive and committed. I look forward to looking back on this semester and having a sense of accomplishment and wonder, that yes those were unusual times. I am sure none of us will forget this semester.
POLICING DURING THE PANDEMIC First-Responders Adapt to Life on Campus
Amy Driscoll McNulty Officer Mark Striefsky wears a mask as he goes out on patrol. UPD officers are equipped with masks, gloves, gowns, and eye protection.
Part of UPD's plan, developed as a combination of CDC guidance and support from business partner, Coccairdi and Associates, was to adjust operations in a way that maintained readiness and response while limiting the number of people in the department.
University Police Officers have always been classified as essential employees, working overnight, through holidays, and during inclement weather. Maintaining operations through the COVID-19 shut down was not a new expectation. However, important safety protocols and PPE requirements were now a necessary part of UPD's operations to ensure that the firstresponders remained safe. UPD's plan, developed as a combination of CDC guidance and support from business partner, Coccairdi and Assoc., was to adjust operations in a way that maintained
readiness and response while limiting the number of people in the department. During the mandatory shutdown period, UPD shifted all operations to a 12 hour rotational schedule. Administrative staff worked from home but were on "stand-by" to fill in as dispatchers should the need arise.
Police officers received training and fitting for personal protective equipment and other pandemic specific protocols. When officers now respond to calls they go through the checklist: N-95 mask, nitrile gloves, gown, goggles, disinfecting wipes, etc.
Regular briefings occur in social distant spaces or virtually. The release of the Royals Safe Together plan provided details for community expectations, and officers, dispatchers, and service officers have responded by providing on and offcampus enforcement, transportation for students in isolation and quarantine, answering calls from concerned parents, students, staff, faculty and local community members all while maintaining standard operations. Protocols may have changed, but the focus remains on the safety and security of the campus community.
EDUCATION UPDATE: DE-ESCALATION & DUTY TO INTERVENE As of October 31, 2020, all sworn and non-sworn members of the University of Scranton Police Department have received updated training on de-escalation and the duty to intervene. De-escalation is the "less is more" approach to handling responses that require the presence of law enforcement. Police officers and non-sworn members of the department received this training as reinforcement of the principles of community respect and professionalism that are imbedded in the mission of the department. As an accredited agency, UPD holds itself to the highest standards of law enforcement and regularly engages in education to ensure these standards are upheld. UNIVERSITY POLICE DEPARTMENT
SPOTLIGHT: STUDENT OFFICER JESS LAGAS
Student Officer Jess Lagas in her many roles on campus: Relay for Life Co-char, Orientation Team Leader, and Student Officer
I joined the Student Officer program the summer before my sophomore year. Within the first few days of working at UPD, I knew I made the right decision. I have been a member of the Student Officer Program for 3 years now, and a ranking member for two first as a Corporal and a now as a Sergeant.
Working as a SO keeps me busy! I have multiple shifts a week on top of a full 18-credit course load with a with a double major in Neuroscience and Criminal Justice, but I wouldnâ€™t trade it for anything. The skills and
firsthand experience I have gained since working here in not only the sense of criminal justice, but also in leadership and working as part of a team is beyond what I could have ever expected. I am also a current senior co-chair for the University of Scrantonâ€™s Relay for Life event and was a member of the New Student Orientation Team for the past two years as well. It is safe to say the Student Officer program was my starting point and helped me develop the confidence and skills to apply for other leadership roles.
As a co-chair for the Relay for Life, I work with a team of 3 other chairs to monitor and facilitate 9 committees with around 50 members. Putting together a Relay for Life event is no small task, but the leadership skills I gained from working as an SO led me to apply for the co-chair position. A position that would allow me to continue to strengthen and develop my leadership skills. That growth and development is what keeps me going, I have loved figuring out new ways to strengthen my personal skills while sharing what I love with others.
Fall Driving Safety Tips Many people worry about driving in the snow, but fall driving brings its own hazards. Follow the safety tips below from PennDot and make your fall commute safer.
Increase your following distance in severe weather, at dusk and dawn and when in an area with wet leaves. If you are being tailgated, let the other driver pass. Check your vehicle's headlights, taillights and turn signals to ensure they are working properly since darkness will be a part of many driver's morning and/or evening commutes. Make sure you turn on your headlights as the sunlight fades. Have your vehicle's heating and wiper systems checked to ensure they are working properly. Be sure you have tires with sufficient tread depth in case of an early season snow. UNIVERSITY POLICE DEPARTMENT
EMERGENCY PLANNING AND RESPONSE The Role of the Incident Management Team As I reflect back over the last months, I recognize all the changes we have endured here on campus and throughout the world, and I am thankful for the ability to help plan for the University's response to the pandemic.
for any potential crisis that could on campus. The IMT Leader coordinates the emergency response including activating the team, developing incident objectives, managing operations and resources, as well as having responsibility for all persons involved. The IMT Leader is responsible for organizing and directing activities in the Emergency Operations Center and providing overall strategic direction for University incident management including emergency response and recovery. Back in January 2020, our team leader tasked a few of
One of my roles on campus is the Planning Section Chief for the Incident Management Team (IMT). The IMT who, by their titles and/or roles, have specific responsibilities and will convene in response to certain emergencies. Our responsibility as an incident management team is to respond, recover, mitigate and prepare f
David Kostiak us on the team with researching plans and actions for a pandemic. Fast forward to where we are today, every member of the campus community has stepped up to assist with the Universityâ€™s response. Iâ€™m proud to be a member of the team that began the research. As we continue to work through the pandemic, you should feel reassured that the entire campus community, including the IMT, is working to make you safer on campus. I wish you good health as we continue to work through the challenges that lie ahead.
The Emergency Operations Center, located within the University of Scranton Police Department
The IMT...have specific responsibilities and will convene in response to certain emergencies. Our responsibility as an incident management team is to respond, recover, mitigate, and prepare for any potential crisis that could happen on campus.
Due to COVID-19, University Police led trainings are paused for the time being. However, we welcome input and ideas on how we can connect, educate, and serve the University of Scranton community to the best of our ability. Contact the department at 570-941-7880 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on social media for up to date departmental happenings.
@upd7777 University of Scranton Police Department
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