Edwardsville Ranks Among Safest College Towns

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Edwardsville ranked number 25 on a list of the top 30 safest college towns in America by SafeWise.com.

After taking into consideration the recent additions to public safety in Edwardsville, such as the new SIUE Fire Station and the in-progress new public safety facility building, it can be said that safety is a top priority for both the city and SIUE.

 The article states, “As the third oldest city in the Prairie State and home to five state governors, Edwardsville has a long history of civic duty and community spirit. That enthusiasm extends to public safety, both for the city and its large Southern Illinois University campus. Each quadrant of the city has a dedicated beat officer that gets to know the residents and their needs in order to provide long-term solutions and improve quality of life for Edwardsville citizens. Likewise, the SIUE police work with students to prevent crime on campus and ensure a safe, supportive learning environment.”

Beat System

The beat system consists of four beats, each with four officers. The program was designed to provide more community service and enhance the safety within each location. Edwardsville Police Chief Jay Keeven said the beat system has proven effective and the officers in the EPD are very approachable and always willing to serve in any situation.

“I would say that the beat officer program itself I think is good – that individuals get to know the people that work that particular area of the city. We typically assign those beats for periods of time, whether that be two months or maybe someone will be assigned the same beats for a year," Keeven said.

"Realistically, the fact that we are responsive to the citizens that we serve, so no matter if you know your beat officer or you just happen to see an officer in your neighborhood that’s not normally assigned to that beat, we are going to respond to your call of service,” Keeven said.

Community Outreach

Aside from the beat system, Keeven said another factor that separates the EPD from others is their dedication to community outreach.

“I think we have a done good deal, over the years, of public outreach. That starts in the schools and when young people get to know our officers and the resource officers in the D.A.R.E. program that District 7 supports wholeheartedly, those young people grow up to be young adults and then middle-aged adults and then retirees that know police officers in their community and have a working relationship with them. I don’t know that just the police department stands out, but the community stands out. Our community refuses to compromise with crime, and if they see something that doesn’t look appropriate, they call us,” Keeven said.

In addition, the EPD also uses a recently-acquired records management program called New World, which helps the EPD keep track of crime activity and what areas to attend to next, according to Keeven.

“We’ve used that a little over a year now and we are able to capture statistical data from our computer-assisted dispatch so we can know how many neighborhood checks we have done, we can know how many businesses we have done, we can know how many community presentations we have done. So I believe that what we measure is what matters,” he said.

Relationships Between Departments

Going forward, Keeven said the city of Edwardsville and public safety will continue to grow and expand, as will the working relationships between the departments.

“The working relationship we have with our fire department is fantastic; they work very well with our police officers. I will also tell you that the working relationship we have with the SIU Police Department — they are the biggest part of what makes the SIU campus safe. If they need assistance, they can call us and we’d be happy to assist them. If we need assistance, we can call them, the Madison County police department, the state police, Maryville, Troy. We have a good working relationship and there aren’t any egos involved as far as ‘this is our area’ and ‘this is your area.’ We work very well together with police and fire personnel throughout this entire region,” he said.

The SIUE Police Department has also played a significant role in maintaining a safe college town and campus. SIUE Police Chief Kevin Schmoll said safety is a high priority for the university and they are always working to keep it that way.

“We work very closely with student affairs, the dean of students, housing, and counseling services. We meet once a week, we go over all of the police reports that we have with representatives from those other departments, and decide who needs to step in. By doing that, we are able to keep the campus safe. That’s just one of the many things. The administration here at the university is dedicated to keeping the university police department fully staffed, which is very important,” Schmoll said.

Rave Guardian Utilized

A year ago, the SIUE PD also started utilizing the app Rave Guardian, a personal safety app that allows students, faculty, and staff to stay connected to the Police Department in the case of a situation. Schmoll said more incoming students are signing up for the app and the SIUE PD hopes to inform others on campus.

“It’s an app that’s free to students, faculty, and staff. They download the app on their smartphone or tablet and they are able to communicate with our dispatcher. Students can text our dispatcher with anything going on, if they need assistance; they can turn their cellphone into an emergency phone. If they can’t talk, they’ll give us GPS coordinates and a map of their location and our officers can drive to them, get to them for assistance. Or, they can link up with Guardians as late as they want,” Schmoll said.

Social Media

Despite working alongside the EPD and the Edwardsville Fire Department, Schmoll said the SIUE PD hopes to expand its media presence and build on its relations with the SIUE and the Edwardsville community in the future.

“We definitely want to always build on our community relations and with the university, student population, faculty and staff; any training that we can do. We want to get more of the hostile-intruder training, do presentations on safety, alcohol and drug abuse. One thing I want to improve on is getting into the social media aspect. The police department has a Facebook page, but maybe work on a Twitter account, because that seems to be the trend. People don’t look at emails anymore; we send out emails about safety stuff, but I think we need to go more the social media route,” Schmoll said.

 

To learn more about the city of Edwardsville and public safety, visit www.cityofedwardsville.com.

For the rest of the story: www.theintelligencer.com

By: Cody King

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