Spotlight: Texas universities: build trust between student, police

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-19 03:23:01|Editor: yan
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By Gao Lu, Robert Stanton

HOUSTON, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- In order to keep students safe and sound on campus, Texas university police spare no effort to build up better relationship with the students.

As the police there believe that when the communication channel is built, their job is half done.

At colleges and universities across Texas, campus police take a proactive approach to protecting students, especially international students, said Lt. Bret Collier of the University of Houston Police Department.

"We welcome students from all over the world, including more than 800 students from China, with the primary goal to educate and keep them safe," he said. "We encourage our students from here and abroad to take ownership of their safety. If you see something, say it."

Texas Southern University (TSU) is located in Houston, in the U.S. state of Texas. As a leading producer of college degrees to African Americans and Hispanics in Texas, TSU ranks fourth in the U.S. in doctoral and professional degrees conferred to African Americans.

Except for its investment in facilities, TSU knows the importance of educating its students how to protect themselves well, especially those who just arrive.

TSU police spend a lot of time communicating with students, trying to help them trust police, call police and tell police what's going on and what's going wrong.

Fred Brown, deputy chief of university police department, told Xinhua that their vision is to do a better job with the communication of students. which is to reach out to students and build up a healthy relationship with them.

"Our goal is to invite students to help us keep them safe. If we meet them and talk to them, and they get to know us and we get to know them," he said.

Brown said the whole idea of building relationship with students is to make them feel comfortable talking with police when they notice something wrong.

"If they suspect something is wrong, they want to feel comfortable talking to us. So we have to build that relationship by introducing ourselves, let them know that we care because our main purpose here is their safety and welfare as well as faculty and the visitors that come to the Texas Southern campus," he continued.

But police say it's difficult to predict an attack by a lone assailant like Dylan Quick, who went on a stabbing spree in April 2013 at Lone Star College System in Cypress, located near Houston.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office said that Quick went on a building-to-building rampage with a razor-like knife, wounding at least 14 people before he was finally arrested. Quick was charged with felony aggravated assault in the case.

"It comes down to everyone's awareness," said Chief Bruce Caldwell of the San Jacinto College Police Department. "It's very difficult to defend against a rampage. Everybody on campus is an extension of the police department, and should report it if you see something unusual.

"It often begins with, 'He (a suspect) was acting strange all day.' If you see something like that or something unusual, it's OK to report it," Caldwell said. "We'll have an officer come out to investigate the situation."

The 30,000-student San Jacinto College system has four campuses located in and around Houston.

According to Brown, building relationship starts from the very beginning. The police department offers seminars for new students and their parents before the semester begins, telling them important information, such as the telephone number of police department and the first things to do when student feel unsafe.

"Don't necessarily call 911 because it goes straight to the Houston police department and they'll call us and it delays the time," Brown said, adding that sometimes first year student call their parents instead of calling them police when something is wrong.

"They forget to call the police. So we try to education them on that." Brown explained that such basic techniques can save lives when emergency occurs.

Brown offered some advices to new students to keep safe and sound during their studies in universities. "We always try to encourage students to walk in pairs at night times, try not to go anywhere alone and not let anybody know where you are," he said, adding that several smart phone apps are recommended to new students and their parents to download.