By Nadine Antoine, Kelly Logue, Joe Nebiker and Matt Hartman
Bloomsburg University has its own police department that deals with campus issues along with patrolling campus to ensure the safety of all students, faculty, and visitors to the campus. We conducted an interview with the soon-to-be former Bloomsburg University Police Department chief of police, Robert Klinger to find out what the BUPD specifically does and discussed what his thoughts were on certain issues on campus.
Before going into the details of the interview, we think it must be stated that the BUPD is severely understaffed and underfunded. According to the BUPD’s website, “The University Safety and Police Department consists of 25 employees; eighteen commissioned Police Officers, (seven functioning in a supervisory capacity) enforcing Pennsylvania Crime and Vehicle Codes and University Policies. Two security officers monitor parking. The department has a full-time safety professional.” The BUPD is at 1985 staffing levels, when there were only 6,000 students on campus and the only part of upper campus that existed was the Nelson Field House. Now, at the end of 2009, there are nearly 10,000 students and continued expansion throughout campus.
Bloomsburg University Police Department’s motto is ‘Protect, Serve, and Educate.’ What does your motto mean?
Former Chief Klinger’s response – BUPD are here to protect the students that are here to learn. They are here to serve everyone, from helping at the Rec Center to transporting people to the hospital when need be. They are here to educate everyone. It’s a learning experience whether you are the victim or villain.
What is the mission of the Bloomsburg University Police Department?
Former Chief Klinger’s response – The mission of the Bloomsburg’s Police is to provide a safe learning environment. It would be impossible to have a safe campus without police with all the drinking and drugs that goes on, almost on a daily basis. Their mission is to overall create an environment where students and staff are able to give and get a proper and better education
Do you consider your work on campus successful? Effective?
Former Chief Klinger’s response – Their work on campus is successful but can be a lot better. There are still many things that they don’t have that they should on this campus such as a criminal investigator; who could have played a large part in the current thefts earlier this year.
They are as effective as they can be. Crime and the amount of students are going up but the staff has been stagnant. There have been new additions such as the new apartments on upper campus and the addition to four buildings (McCormick, Bakelsss, Hartline and Hass) and they have to cover those buildings along with the dorms and surrounding areas. They are successful and effective but can be better.
How do you feel about the relationship between the students and police on campus?
Former Chief Klinger’s response – There is a good relationship between the students and police on campus. They feel like they communicate well. Of course students may not be happy to see them at first depending on the situation but they soon see how the BUPD has helped them in the long run.
Has the BUPD changed any of its practices or implemented a different strategy following the homecoming incident of 2008?
Former Chief Klinger’s response- Looking back at that situation, the BUPD would not change anything that they did. Since the police department is undermanned, there was no realistic way that they could have broken up the fighting without using pepper spray. The dance had over 400 people and there was the maximum amount of BUPD working that night. How was an officer supposed to go in and break up the fight? A member of the BUPD carries three things, an asp, a gun, and pepper spray. The first two were not options for breaking up the riot and fights. The use of pepper spray was the easiest way to break up the massive number of people outside the union that night.
The reason why there are long lines at the dances in the Kehr Union is because of the use of metal detectors. Metal detectors are in place to ensure that nothing that shouldn’t be at the dance gets in to the dance (guns, knifes, etc.) According to Klinger, the dances since the homecoming situation have been much safer. Some of the pictures below are courtesy of the BUPD website.
How do you feel about the parking situation on campus?
Former Chief Klinger’s response- The meter parking on campus is not designed for students who are attending class to park in. The meter parking near the library is for students who want to make a quick stop in the library or are meeting with a professor or group. The meters are set for 60 minutes for that reason, so students cannot park there during class. The meter parking outside the Student Rec Center is intended for students who are using the gym. They originally were set for 60 minutes, but the limit was raised to 90 minutes a couple years ago.
The meter parking across from Elwell is designated for quick stops by students, family, and friends to drop off and pick-up items.
Do you feel that the university’s parking situation can be more effective?
Former Chief Klinger’s response- Each year Bloomsburg University writes out roughly $170,000 in parking tickets. The majority of these tickets go to students who live within 6 blocks of BU. The university also offers a shuttle bus for students who live a little farther from campus that runs twice hourly. Parking is also free on campus after 5:00 p.m. The money made from the parking tickets does not go into the BUPD’s budget. The money from parking tickets goes into the parking budget that is used to create new parking lots and fix older ones. The parking lot behind the library used to be where multiple tennis courts were. Just a couple of years ago, the blue lot was a corn field. Klinger also stated that to the best of his knowledge, Bloomsburg is the only PASSHE university that offers parking space for all students including freshmen.
Our group decided to get the students’ opinions about the cops as well. We asked 5 Bloomsburg University students how they felt about the Bloomsburg Police. Three of the students (the boys) asked to remain anonymous by name but were OK with their faces being revealed. The other two were Junior Ashley Paolino and Junior Courtney Martin. The results were recorded below.