NDSU police officer teaches self-defense class at NDSU
North Dakota State University Campus Police have trained a new police officer on campus, resulting in a large ratio of female to male officers on campus. Campus Police have 6 female police officers and 9 male officers which is rare to find in police precincts nationwide. The national average of female police officers is around 8%, while NDSU is nearly 40% female.
The NDSU campus police are designated to protect the university’s students, faculty and staff. They provide services to the campus to ensure the safety and security of the campus. They are always available due to their 24/7 dispatch center.
Bill Vandal, Police Chief at NDSU campus police, spoke about how the large number of female officers have been impactful to their program. “I think it helps when people report certain crimes that they might be maybe embarrassed about or they maybe just feel more comfortable reporting it to a female officer,” said Vandal. The most common case of this is centered around sexual assault.
If a student is more comfortable talking to a female or male officer, the campus police can reach out to other agencies to ensure students share comfortably. “We would rather have them be comfortable and tell that story once,” said Vandal.
Vandal also explained that NDSU campus police did not intentionally hire female officers, but simply chose the best candidates for the job. “There is nothing that we have done purposefully, we just go through the interview process and the best candidates rise to the top and we hire those candidates,” said Vandal.
This changes is not only happening at NDSU, but police stations across Fargo and the nation are seeing an increase in female officers. Even though there has been a change, it is still a male-dominated field. “I’m seeing that transition, and I still say we have a long way to go, but you’re seeing the change,” said Vandal.
Campus Police are also to patrol around the campus. They also patrol downtown and main campus. A couple years ago, they were given secondary jurisdiction to patrol south of campus down to 8th ave. N and east of campus to N. 10th St. They are able to patrol areas that many students live, even if they are living off campus. They patrol “those neighborhoods that we know a lot of students live in,” said Vandal.
Police Officer Jennifer Baker instructs a self defense class on campus for female students. This class focuses on the building strategies, techniques and instincts in order to react to difficult situations. This is a one-credit, 9-week class for students to take during the year. It also helps empower women and to give them the confidence in order to feel safe.
The self defense class is important for people to take, as it helps prepare them if an unsafe situation arises, but also because it gets students thinking about how to respond in those situations. “The more you practice and think about different outcome, that’s going to help your brain in that situation,” said Baker.
Baker is trained for women self defense and wants to give students the opportunity to learn these techniques. She has up to 20 people in her classes, learning self defense. This class is also open to any student who takes classes at NDSU, including students from the tricollege which includes Concordia and Minnesota State University Moorhead.
“Hopefully if you at least know some of them you feel more comfortable in a situation,” said Baker. She explained that the different techniques help students gain tools for their “toolbelt.”
Campus police have other strategies and resources for safety on campus including the “Pathlight” app. This acts as a virtual escort to make sure students can get home. They also provide in-person rides to an apartment if a student feels unsafe walking. Both of these services ensure that students get home safely.
Campus police are always available through phone calls as well as through texting. They provide a text-a-tip line for students to reach the campus police. “Students are more comfortable using that ‘text-a-tip’ then actually calling sometimes.”
The campus police also make it a priority to get to know students on campus. Hall Liaisons is an opportunity for students in dormitories to meet a cop and find out information about the campus police.
Baker is the Hall Liaison for Thompson and she hosted Cookies With a Cop to build relationships among students and get them to ask questions. “It’s also familiarity with somebody, like if they see your face, maybe they’re a little more comfortable to report because they know somebody,” said Baker.
The Campus police also host a Coffee With a Cop, which is another opportunities to get to know the NDSU campus police.