By Leah Dumas, Staff Reporter
The Hardin-Simmons University police department works hard to ensure safety for everyone on campus. Not only do they keep the campus safe, but they also provide helpful services such as airing up flat tires, jumpstarting vehicles and unlocking vehicles for students who have locked their keys inside.
Leading our police department on campus is Chief of Police Patrick Fenner, who has been at HSU for almost four years. Fenner has 36 years of law enforcement experience and takes campus safety very seriously.
“People think the neighborhood surrounding campus is unsafe, but it’s not necessarily bad. It’s just old… [The police department’s] biggest focus is making sure that the campus is safe from any predators or anybody trying to do ill will,” Fenner said.
One of the biggest things Fenner does to ensure campus safety is patrolling the area, which encompasses everything from the Six White Horses stable on Grape Street to the University Place apartments on Pine Street. “We don’t stay in the office very often. Most of the time we’re out patrolling. We take our job very seriously,” Fenner said.
One common misconception about the campus police is that they only provide a form of security service for campus. “We’re very invested in our profession, but we’re not rookies. We have the same authority as a Texas Ranger. We’re commissioned peace officers through the state just like any other cop,” Fenner explained.
There is always an officer on duty 24/7, so students should not hesitate to call if they ever have an emergency. The campus police can be reached at 325-670-1461, and students can count on talking to an actual officer instead of a dispatch system. “We’re here when the campus is asleep and when the school is closed. We just want our students to be safe,” Fenner said.
In the spirit of safety, the HSU police also provide vehicle checks for students twice a year before Thanksgiving and spring break. In these checks, they check air pressure and fluids of students’ cars before they get on the road to travel.
“We also investigate criminal activity and complaints of any kind. We handle situations like every day police departments would,” Fenner said.
Recent car burglaries on campus have had students understandably concerned. While students can rest assured that the culprit has been caught, Fenner offered tips on how to prevent such a situation in the future. “You need to remove valuables, lock your car and park where it’s well lit. Don’t leave your laptop in the front seat and the car unlocked,” Fenner advised.
Other general safety tips he provided include to walk where it’s lit on campus, and don’t walk alone. If a student feels uncomfortable, they can call the HSU police, and they will escort them across campus. Students should also sign up for campus alerts on their HSU Central to receive alerts about campus safety and weather delays.