As the Texas State population increases, so do the chances of emergencies that could put students in harm’s way. This is troubling consideringhad not seen a staff increase in 15 years prior to this semester.
According to an Oct. 9 University Star article, UPD is in the process of hiring three additional officers and an emergency management coordinator in response to the school’s population increase. This is a step in the right direction to ensure the safety of the student population.
It is nonsensical to expect UPD to be able to adequately handle emergencies as they arise when there is only one police officer for about every 1,037 students on campus. The San Marcos Police Department often has to step in to help with university matters. While it is nice to be able to count on SMPD for backup when needed, it is unfortunate that UPD cannot handle some situations on its own.
Texas State welcomed a record-high number of students this fall for the 15th consecutive year. According to Institutional Research, there are 34,229 students enrolled at Texas State. There are currently 33 UPD officers, the same number staffed by the campus police department in 1997 when there was a student enrollment of 20,652.
UPD cannot be expected to keep the campus safe when the officer-to-student ratio is so disproportionate. While the addition of three more officers is assuring, it should have happened a long time ago. Some undergraduates were toddlers the last time there was a UPD staff increase. The number of police offers on campus should have grown with the student population.
According to a Sept. 27 University Star article, UPD officers were unable to detain a male allegedly under the influence of drugs in Alkek Library, and had to ask bystanders for help. If several officers could not control one man, it is doubtful the current number of officers would be sufficient in handling larger incidents.
The hiring of three more campus police officers will obviously be beneficial for safety reasons, but it will also help with enforcement of university policies. UPD currently does not have sufficient resources to keep pedestrians off handicap ramps, direct traffic in the bus loop and monitor student organizations in The Quad, among several other duties that must be performed daily.
UPD officers cannot be expected to enforce the campus-wide tobacco ban on top of those duties.
Although it is excellent that the university is finally hiring new UPD staff members, this change is not enough. Especially when newly hired officers are finally out on the streets, rule enforcement and campus safety needs to step up significantly for the benefit of Texas State as a whole.