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Police encourage students to have fun, responsibly

By JOANNA LAGEDROST | Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Local police and University officials addressed off-campus safety and proper ways to enjoy college nightlife at Tuesday’s Student Safety Summit in the Carey Auditorium of the Hesburgh Library.

Sgt. Tracy Skibins of the Notre Dame Security Police headed up the panel of law enforcement officers who offered safety tips to students and answered questions about what is acceptable in South Bend and how best to avoid trouble. 

Included in the discussion were representatives from the Office of Campus Safety, the Notre Dame student body, the Indiana State Excise Police, various departments within the South Bend Police Department (SBPD) and Notre Dame Security Police Department (NDSP), the Mishawaka Police Department, the St. Joseph County Police Department and an attorney from the South Bend Special Victims Unit.

NDSP’s assistant deputy chief of safety services Keri Kei Shibata said NDSP works to help students stay safe but students also should contact NDSP when problems arise.

“NDSP tries to be a very service-oriented agency, but we rely on [students] to let us know when something does not seem right or when someone may be in trouble,” Shibata said.

Ron Teachman, chief of the South Bend Police Department, said his officers don’t want to make arrests but rather, seek to ensure safety.

“We take no pleasure in arresting students,” Teachman said.

Bill Thompson from the St. Joseph County Police Department echoed this sentiment.

“We want you to have the best four years in college,” Thompson said.

In reference to the recent off-campus armed robbery, Teachman cautioned students to travel in groups as a preventative measure.

Lt. Patrick Hechlinski, a crime prevention specialist at the South Bend Police Department, said students should not carry more money than they need when off campus. Additionally, carrying credit cards when going out is never a good idea.

“Don’t carry a wallet or purse,” Hechlinski said.  “Carry the important things in your pocket.”

Captain Scott Ruszkowski of the SBPD, who often deals with Notre Dame off-campus parties, said it is important to remember that most of the time a criminal’s intent is to take your belongings without physically harming you.

“Usually, people are not looking to harm you; they only want what you have,” Ruszkowski said.

Ruszkowski said he regularly encounters students who attempt to outrun law enforcement officers. He warned students that in those situations they will be caught and will face harsher consequences.

“You can’t outrun the police radio,” he said.

Sgt. Alvin Taylor of the Indiana State Excise Police reiterated the need for taking responsibility for mistakes. He said lying can only make things worse.

“If the police show up, and if you’re in charge of the residence, step forward and say you’re in charge of the residence,” Taylor said.