At night, the campus can get very quiet. Dimly lit parking lots with only a few people can turn into an unsafe situation.
To help people get across campus safely after hours, UTD Police employs students in a program known as Student Patrol. Equipped with orange flashing batons, jackets and vests, these students escort people to their destination, patrol campus for stolen items and observe the campus for any suspicious activity.
They can be seen walking around the university Monday through Saturday, from 6 to 11 p.m. Moreover, from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. the escorts are assigned to certain parts of campus to provide heightened security and to help students and faculty get to their cars safely.
During this one hour time frame, the escorts are assigned to A and B bridge, C and D bridge, parking structure 1 and sometimes the JSOM crosswalk.
In 2009, Chief of Police Larry Zacharias started the campus escort program to provide students and faculty with a safe and reliable service to use whenever necessary.
“We are the eyes and ears of the police department,” said Shaw Nawaz, a computer science graduate student and campus escort.
Edwin Hampton, a psychology and child learning development senior has been with the program for about three and a half years.
Back in 2012, when 2 construction workers fell to their death from a crane, Hampton was present at the site keeping students at bay and preventing them from taking pictures of the incident or going too close to the site.
Not everyday has something as provoking as the crane incident, however.
“It can be kind of boring, because you’re going in circles for hours,” Hampton said.
At times, the areas they patrol are devoid of people to escort. Hampton said this is only one of the downsides of the program. Student Patrol Officers are required to work in the cold of winter, the heat of the summer and are paid $8.00 an hour, working up to forty hours a week.
Moreover, campus escorts aren’t in charge of monitoring around the residence halls or apartments, an area where a lot of students are coming and going throughout the day and at night.
“The department has in their budget to have 12 to 15 campus escorts in total, [but] for a population of 20,000 (students) is that really enough to cover a campus?,” Hampton said.
Hampton is one of the more senior members of the campus escort group having been with the program for three and a half years, but he feels that his work isn’t appreciated as much.
Despite these drawbacks, Senior Public Safety Officer David Spigelmyer said the Student Patrol is a good service to have so that students can have someone to walk with.
“We have people that walk around at a lot of different hours, going to labs, classes, and libraries. It’s just a good thing to have out there. Why invite trouble when we can keep our people safe?” Spigelmyer said.