Cooperation between Campus Security, WWPD keeps students safe

Lane Barton

As Whitman students have returned to campus, the need for Campus Security and local law enforcement to make sure that students are safe and acting responsibly has increased.

Improved collaboration and identification of the loose roles of Campus Security and the Walla Walla Police Department in the past few years have helped make these organizations more effective, with Campus Security being the first to respond to incidents on campus and police arriving if they receive a complaint. Together, members of Campus Security and the Walla Walla Police Department are prepared to ensure the security of students on campus, with both organizations citing this value as a top priority.

“Our first and main goal is the safety of the students, period,” said Head of Security Matt Stroe.

Communication between Campus Security and the Walla Walla Police Department is key for making safety a reality. The Office of Security is pleased to note a positive rapport with their counterparts in the Walla Walla Police Department in recent years.

“I think now we have a really good relationship with the Police Department, a really good understanding with them … that the only time we’ll call them is if we really need them,” said Security Officer John DeLaney.

Campus Security generally investigates potential law enforcement issues on campus. Police are called only if they deem it necessary.

“We rarely will go right to a dorm or a frat unless we got a complaint or a request to do that,” said Walla Walla Police Officer Bryant Stringham.

However, this method of operation is not a fixed policy. Most events involving violence, assault or non-Whitman individuals creating a disturbance on campus will result in Campus Security calling the police for backup immediately in order to ensure the safety of unarmed security officers and students from suspects who may be armed.

“It’s oftentimes that you get somebody that’s not related to the school that will come onto campus and cause problems … We’ll respond to remove that problem from the campus to keep the students safe and ultimately to keep the violator safe,” said Stringham.

Similarly, police officers on patrol may be the first to spot a possible incident and call Campus Security to address the issue if it involves Whitman students. The organizations generally attempt to remain respectful of each others’ efforts to keep students safe.

“We don’t try to tell [police officers] to do their jobs when they’re on campus. We let them handle it their way. But they in turn like to see us handle it ourselves because it’s a respect thing –– you don’t want to start crossing those boundaries and become demanding,” said Stroe.

Both parties agree that in extreme emergencies when there is imminent threat to students, students should call 911 immediately. However, Campus Security and the Walla Walla Police Department both hope that students won’t be in a situation where they need to contact either organization. The most common crimes that students tend to report are the theft of phones, bikes and laptops. Security officers stress as something students can avoid by simply locking up these items or not leaving them unattended in public places.

“Laptops, phones, purses, anything like that –– don’t leave them laying around,” said DeLaney. “Our library, for example, is open to the public until 10 at night. You leave something laying there, it can walk off, and us finding it can be hard.”


Photo by Marra Clay
Photo by Marra Clay