Indiana Wesleyan University’s switch to a unified chapel service affected more than just class schedules and the sense of spiritual oneness at the school; it affected how the university’s Campus Police Department does its job.
When Director of Campus Police Mario Rangel heard of IWU’s plan to combine the chapel services, he knew there had to be a change.
“It was common sense that we upped the security a little bit, when you have that many people congregated in one area,” Rangel said.
Last school year, there was only one Campus Police officer in each of the two services. Rangel said he now has two officers patrolling the service. There are also two student officers, both criminal justice majors, who assist the main officers. Two more officers watch over the area outside the Chapel Auditorium and the Barnes Student Center during the students’ exit from the service, which Rangel calls the “cattle drive.”
The chapel change also prompted Campus Police to tighten security at other campus functions. Now, Rangel said he has an officer at “all the events” on campus. These officers are prepared to react to a variety of crimes.
“When you look at how things have turned since Columbine and Virginia Tech [school shootings], it’s not just the active shooters anymore,” said Rangel. “I think if you’re planning for just one thing, you’re making a big mistake.”
Another potential change for Campus Police is the implementation of a program called IWU Safe Ride. In this program, student ticket writers will drive around in a van labeled “IWU Safe Ride” and pick up students at nighttime when they don’t feel comfortable walking back to their residence hall or wherever they are headed.
“Whether it’s eight, nine, 10 o’clock at night, students can call this criminal justice major, who has gone through background checks, and is out there writing tickets and patrolling the lots,” said Rangel.
The program is still in the works but could start next semester, Rangel said.
Rangel also stressed the importance of students taking responsibility for their own safety. He offered three tips for students to follow in order to stay safe.
The first tip is simple: just lock up your things.
“We’ve had about three or four cars at IWU with items stolen from them since the beginning of the semester,” Rangel said. “People are walking by and checking the door handles, and if your handle is the one that’s open, that makes it easier for the criminal.”
Rangel also said it’s never a good idea to walk or jog alone, even in the daytime. But if you do choose to go out by yourself, he said to be sure to notify someone else where you are going and approximately when you will get back.
The last suggestion Rangel had was to download the Circle of 6 application for smartphone or tablet. The app allows the user to select six people as emergency contacts and contact them quickly for a variety of circumstances.
“If you concentrate on those things, you’ve done me a huge favor,” Rangel said.