Public Safety wait times whittled

Public Safety aims to cut down on officer wait times when performing pickups and dropoffs.

Kelly Holm, Senior Reporter

If Hamline students look to Public Safety to provide them a ride back to campus, beginning this semester, they will need to be extra alert and punctual when waiting for the officer that will escort them. After previous incidents of officers waiting for up to 15 minutes for a student who requested a ride to appear, Public Safety intends to shave wait times down to approximately two minutes.

“We don’t have a stopwatch and go ‘two minutes, it’s up,’” Public Safety Director Melinda Heikkinen said. “What I’m asking the dispatchers to do is is tell [students], we’re going to wait a couple minutes… but if you don’t come down, we’re not coming back. If you’re going to call for an escort, it’s your responsibility to be down there.”

The primary reason for this process change is the need to maintain and heighten Public Safety’s presence on Hamline’s grounds.

“Our primary focus here is the safety of campus,” Public Safety Officer Seth Jensen said. “If we can’t be on campus, we can’t be looking out for the safety of campus, and so the longer we have to sit over at Target or down at CVS and wait for somebody to show up… the longer we’re potentially creating a situation where something could happen… Especially when it’s later in the evening where we have certain other duties beyond just patrolling campus that need to be done.”

No official Public Safety policy has been amended yet, as to do so requires the extensive process of drafting a proposal for presentation to Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator Patti Klein and any other offices across campus that a policy change may affect. However, Public Safety dispatchers are to inform ride-seekers of the shortened wait times.

“It’s… about making sure that they’re there and they’re kind of looking out. Like if I call for a taxi I kind of, you know, stay at my picture window and look out,” Dispatch Supervisor Bergie Mellin said. “We get pretty busy in here at times with phone calls, people at the window and other things going on, that we don’t have time to call people back and go ‘hey, they’re on their way.”

Although dispatchers publicize this information to any ride-seeking student who calls, junior Trenton Johnson believes Public Safety is not doing enough to distribute knowledge of the change to the Hamline community.

“I check my email pretty frequently and I don’t think I’ve seen anything about it,” Johnson said. “It affects us, so we should be informed.”

As for the new procedure itself, Johnson finds it a bit extreme.

“I’d say two minutes… is unreasonable,” Johnson said. “I can see their point where maybe 10 to 15 minutes would be too long… but I don’t think they should go so drastic as two. I mean, maybe like, five minutes would be more reasonable?”

When and if any official policy is changed, Heikkinen hopes to communicate the information to the student body using Inside Hamline, as well as through HUSC. However, she states that communication on students’ ends is necessary in order for the system to work efficiently for both themselves and the escorting officers.

“I don’t want to just drive off and leave somebody who legitimately just needs a little bit more time to come down,” Heikkinen said. “We need to be communicative if someone says hang on, I have a mobility issue… if [students] let [dispatchers] know, we will definitely wait.”