UPD Photo

Cal State Fullerton's University Police Department stopped offering in-vehicle safety escorts in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Eliza Green / Daily Titan)

Cal State Fullerton’s University Police Department announced that it will no longer be giving safety escort rides in vehicles in order to comply with the 6-foot-distance rule, but will be using alternative methods.

On Nov. 5, the department tweeted that a student community service or officer will drive, walk or ride nearby as students, faculty or staff make their way to their destination.

University Police Captain Scot Willey said that the rule had been in effect since March, but the department decided to post the tweet because they had received multiple questions about the new limitations.

“We’ve been doing that for months and it was pretty well understood like I said, most people didn’t even question it,” Willey said. “But, I think just on social media when we got a couple of the questions, we just thought it would be a good time to point that out and bring it up for folks.”

On-campus safety escorts are often done by the department’s community service officers who are equipped and trained to use pepper spray if the occasion arises. Due to budget cuts, the department had to cut down the number of CSO officers from 50 to about 20, Willey said.

He said that due to the lack of people coming through campus each day, the number of escort requests has dropped from up to 40 a night before campus closures to just a couple a week.

Willey said in the last couple of months, most of the crimes committed are from individuals outside of campus coming into the department’s jurisdiction. Despite officers not being able to hold students in their safety vehicles, Willey said that the department is ready to act.

“We still have personnel that we just drive around the campus and we’re here night and day, holidays, weekends and all that,” Willey said. “We’ve got staff in here that are absolutely dedicated to the safety of the student, faculty and staff in our community.”

Grace Hanson, a CSUF junior theater major, said she spent her first year living in the dorms on campus and had to frequently travel across campus at night due to theatre rehearsals and shows ending late, sometimes as late as 11 p.m.

She said that she would use the safety escort service prior to the pandemic because she felt unsafe traveling around campus late at night.

“When I did use it, they came within 10 minutes. I got in their security vehicle and then they safely took me to where I needed to go,” Hanson said.

After learning about the department’s updated regulations, Hanson said that as long as they can transport students safely around campus, the service still remains viable.

“If they remain accessible for all students and they still arrive like in a decent amount of time, they still make sure students are able to get to their end location, then that’s kind of all matters because their presence is still there, so I think it’ll be a safe operation,” Hanson said.

Danny Styrpejko, a second-year graduate student at CSUF, said he attends his in-person classes on the main campus and gets out late once or twice a week. Although Styrpejko hasn’t used the escort service before, he said he thinks the new regulations will work.

“Since most of the issue is being alone and traveling in groups is usually very helpful in deterring most issues,” Styrpejko said.

To ask for a safety escort, call (657) 278-2515 or locate a blue emergency phone and press the red button to immediately get in touch with the University Police. The department will only escort students within campus boundaries.

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