Police educate students about pedestrian safety on Public Safety Day

By Angelina Cole

Last fall, members of local police units worked with one of the University’s speech communications classes in order to devise a better marketing strategy for public safety.

Public Safety Day , held last Thursday, was the result of those discussions between students and officers. Officers set up a tent with a multitude of T-shirts, miniature flashers, bookmarks and other giveaways to begin a conversation with students about their personal safety.

“We encourage students to ask questions or answer questions pertaining to pedestrian safety or all safety,” said University Police Lieutenant Skip Frost.

Frost said he believes Public Safety Day allowed students to approach police officers in a non-threatening situation so that they may have the law clarified for them.

“We hope that people don’t look at the police with fear and unpopularity because they have to enforce the law,” Frost said. “We are a resource for safety. We want to work with the community, understand (the people in it) and protect the quality of human life.”

One of the topics discussed in detail during the day was jaywalking.

“That’s a $75 ticket,” said Nicole Herron, senior in LAS. “Now I actually understand what it is.”

Jaywalking, as defined by Frost, is crossing the street when the lights say “don’t walk.” It can easily be avoided if students allow themselves more time to get around.

“Even if you’re late for class, you cannot cross an intersection when you’re not supposed to,” he said.

Herron said he believes that many people do not know exactly what traffic safety laws include, and Public Safety Day is a learning opportunity for them.

“People don’t understand traffic safety laws, and they don’t want to walk up to an officer (any other time) because of the negative connotations,” she said.

Matt Stolar, freshman in LAS, found the program to be very helpful and said that the police units should have programs like these more often.

Similar programs will hopefully occur around the same time every year while the semester is still new, but people have moved into their new homes and have become somewhat acclimated to their new environment, Frost said.

However, this is not their only educational outlet.

“We do a lot of presentations, and we are very receptive to people contacting us,” Frost said. These include general programs for residence halls, the Rape Aggression Defense program and special programs for any kind of student or civic group.

“We do what we can to educate on laws and explain people’s rights and responsibilities,” Frost said.

But some students believe Public Safety Day to be the best way for officers to educate them.

“It’s nice to have (officers) clarify the laws by asking questions and getting answers,” Stolar said. “It’s much easier to approach them this way than when they’re in your face with a flashlight. The smiles help too.”