Some students may not believe it, but the K-State Police Department does a lot more than just give out traffic tickets.
Every day and each call is a different experience for police officers. Officers on campus have a strenuous and detailed job that includes heavy use of technology. Police officers use a mobile data transmitter, or MDT, to communicate with each other and keep track of where all units are.
“A big part of this job is knowing where you’re at and knowing where everyone else is,” Officer Kyle Casey said.
When responding to calls, Casey said that each unit will come from a different direction to have the entire area covered. Officers have also been trained to think of all possible scenarios on their way to a call. Casey said that with each call, it could be either nothing or the people involved could become resistant, and the situation would be very different.
Night shifts and day shifts also differ greatly. During the day, the most common calls officers receive are theft reports and traffic incidents. At night, most calls are alcohol related – most commonly criminal theft and battery.
When situations such as muggings and robberies occur on campus, officers take extra precautions to keep students and faculty safe. These include having more officers patrolling around campus, especially in the areas where incidents took place. Detectives are also sent to the area where the incident took place to look for any evidence as to why something may have happened. Administrators also send out updates to K-State Alerts to inform students and faculty of the situation.
Responding to calls isn’t all police officers do; they also handle traffic situations. When officers pull someone over, they first radio in where they are and then proceed to approach the car. They then take the person’s license and registration and give dispatch the information, so a check for outstanding warrants can be run.
In translating the information to dispatch, officers use a phonetic alphabet to cut down on confusion. Officers also use “ten codes” to relay information on calls so that dispatch and other officers know exactly what is going on.
In addition to patrolling campus every day, officers act as secondary responders for the Riley County Police Department. Officers use a scanner to watch calls from RCPD in case incidents come close to campus or their assistance is needed. Police mostly assists RCPD during night shifts, but also act as first responders if RCPD cannot respond to an incident in a timely manner.
While officers are out around campus, dispatchers work to keep communication flowing; however, their days vary just as greatly as those of patrol officers.
“Some days we’re slammed with phone calls, other days we handle fingerprints and some days we have a lot of traffic related incidents,” Ashley LeBlanc, senior in biochemistry and student employee in dispatch, said. “So our main duties depend on the day.”
Calls during night shifts are commonly police calls, while those during the day are more administrative calls. LeBlanc said that dispatch sometimes acts as a catchall, and people call them with questions when they are not sure who they need to call.
Dispatchers are always monitoring the security cameras around campus, such as those in Hale Library, Dykstra Hall and Anderson Hall. They also watch the weather on a radar, and send out severe weather announcements. Like officers, dispatchers monitor RCPD calls in case the incidents come close to campus.
In addition to monitoring, dispatchers send officers to calls and run license plates, warrants and background checks through their computer system.
Some background checks are also done by the Investigative Division of the Campus Police Department. Detective Andrew Moeller said his division runs most background checks for people who work in the department and the Division of Public Safety.
“There is no set daily routine,” Moeller said. “It can range from investigating property crime to major crimes.”
Cases come in at all times of the day, so detectives are essentially on call at all times. Some cases have odd hours and others require overtime; each case is different.
When cases first come in, detectives look at the report and decide which cases they will handle directly and which will be handled by a patrol officer with their assistance. After deciding how the case will be handled, detectives look at evidence and decide who they need to talk to. They will usually talk to witnesses, but they also use experts in various fields as references.
“Building a case is like a bunch of building blocks that all start to point in the same direction,” Moeller said.
Each division of the K-State Police Department works closely with one another. Detectives work with patrol officers to solve cases and dispatch works to keep communication going within the department.
“My favorite part of working in the campus police department is the family atmosphere,” LeBlanc said. “We all have each others backs at all times and keep each other safe.”
Though each division has its own job, as a whole the K-State Police Department keeps campus a safe place to live and learn.