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Written by Mike Thee
April 1, 2019
Image credit: Yosef Kalinko
As part of the clearing out of the University Services Building in preparation for the coming Center for Science and Innovation project, the Department of Public Safety has moved into 1313 Columbia. Craig Birklid, executive director of public safety and transportation, recently took some time to talk about how the new location will benefit the department and those who rely on its services.
The Commons: What new opportunities does DPS’s location in 1313 Columbia provide for the department and the campus community, at-large?
Birklid: Our new location provides a consolidated office for the Public Safety Department. We were split up between two different spaces in the University Services with some creative make do solutions. After 32 years, we had simply outgrown the space we use to provide services to the campus.
The first thing that people coming to Public Safety will notice is that we can get more than two people in the business lobby! We now have a larger customer service space and a better front office layout to assist community members. For our Field Operations team we have an improved Communication Center with improved technology to integrate the multiple security systems we monitor and access as part of our operation. There is now a dedicated report-writing area for the team, a clearly defined locker room and a dedicated break space for the team. One important addition was the inclusion of a backup generator to maintain our emergency operations whenever we lose City Light service.
The Commons: Can you talk about the new Emergency Operations Center?
Birklid: We have a fully built out and dedicated space for the campus Emergency Operation Center. This space is designed to function as a resource hub, bringing together members of the campus Emergency Response Team to work collaboratively in response to significant incidents affecting campus. With the backup power it will allow us to provide that emergency coordination under most foreseeable circumstances. The dedicated space will allow for ongoing training of our campus response team members as well as a training space for Public Safety Officers.
The Commons: How would you respond to someone who might be concerned that DPS’s new location might hinder its ability to respond in a timely manner to incidents on campus?
Birklid: Public Safety has been working a sector patrol system and will continue to emphasize this strategy to provide a consistent patrol presence across campus as well as reduce response times for calls for service or incident responses. So there should not be a visible change in our response to community calls for service.
The Commons: Is there anything else you would like the campus community to know about DPS’s new location?
Birklid: We are grateful for the university’s investment in the new Public Safety space. One of the changes in our location will be after-hours access for community members using the van rental service. Last year Public Safety facilitated over 1,800 van rentals to support educational, athletic, and recreational programs. Many of our rentals conclude after normal business hours. All community members will be able to access the front doors of the Columbia building with their campus card to drop off rental contracts and keys at the drop box at the building entry or to use the phone to connect to Public Safety for any early vehicle pickups.
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