In the wake of the Oregon District mass shooting on Aug. 4, University of Dayton Public Safety is working to increase police visibility and accessibility on campus.
For the UD police department, a main goal for the upcoming academic year is to create a heightened visibility profile for the officers patrolling the campus and student neighborhood. Additionally, Public Safety will be offering opportunities for students to engage with the police.
“We are intentionally in student spaces,” said UD Police Chief Rodney Chatman. “Research shows that when you know officers by name, you are more likely to reach out to them when concerning behavior is observed.”
To increase interactions between students and police, uniformed officers will be patrolling the campus on bicycles and on foot, giving students the opportunity to get to know the officers by name. Officers also will be spending more time in dining halls to interact with students.
In addition to the visibility profile, Public Safety will offer training in self-defense, safety techniques and active shooter scenarios for students. For announcements regarding training and other events, students are encouraged to follow UD Police Chief Chatman on Instagram and Twitter at @UDChiefChatman.
“Policing for us may look different than neighborhoods where students come from,” Chatman said. “We are heavily engaged in the community; that’s our philosophy.”
The UD Police Department has 29 officers, with the last officer hired within the past 90 days. There are no plans to hire additional officers at this time.
UD Police have training often beyond other municipal police departments, including for crisis intervention, bias-free policing and active shooters. They also train for common issues in campus policing, such as sexual assault and hazing incidents.
Public Safety also is encouraging students to speak up to officers if they see troubling behavior or concerning social media posts. Chatman stressed the importance of speaking up, even if the report ends up being a false alarm.
The strategies for safety on campus also extend to local Brown Street restaurants and bars. On Aug. 16, Public Safety met with a group of participating restaurants to discuss security, including de-escalation techniques and disorderly conduct. Participating businesses included Romer’s and Timothy’s Bar & Grill.
The Dayton Daily News reported that the Dayton shooter discussed shooting up Timothy’s Bar & Grill, a popular bar among UD students.
“Tim’s” opened in 1965 and was bought in 1996 by UD alumni Paul Kennell and Marty Brown. The bar has between 30 to 35 employees and makes it a goal to hire as many UD students as possible, Kennell said.
Before the current owners took over, “Tim’s” was known as a “troubled spot” on Brown Street, Kennell said. The bar routinely saw fights and the sale of alcohol to underage customers. When Kennell and Brown took over, they worked to improve “Tim’s” relationship with UD.
“This has always been a focus for us,” Kennell said. “We’ve never wavered and always stayed close to the university.”
Safety from gun violence has been a priority for “Tim’s.” After the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, the bar owners relayed their concerns to the university to see how they could be better prepared in the event of a shooter. “Tim’s” hosted its first mock shooter training event in 2017 with UD Police, despite its initial reluctance.
“We were reluctant at first, because we were worried about the perception of the event by the public. We didn’t want people to be scared,” Kennell said. “But, the safety of the staff and customers trumped our anxiety. I’m really glad we did it.”
After the Oregon District shooting, Tim’s also will be encouraging customers to follow the “see something, say something” rule. Kennell hopes students will speak up to staff members if they see any disturbing behavior.
The bar is divided into four sections for its employees, with one staff member watching over each section during the night on a rotation. Staff is quick to dismiss anyone if they see dangerous behavior, and they communicate with one another via earpieces. Also, the DJs are trained to turn on the lights and communicate with the crowd if anything were to happen inside the bar.
“The greatest thing about the University of Dayton is the community,” Kennell said. “It takes everyone to fix it. This will take many generations.”
Another measure “Tim’s” is taking to improve safety is to prohibit backpacks from being taken into the bar.
“We’ve continued to evolve every year to make sure that we’re doing things correctly,” Kennell said. “Timothy’s will do our best to make sure that it’s a safe, fun place for the community to go.”