UTM’s campus police have implemented a new central dispatch system that guarantees an immediate response by routing the calls through the St. George campus police office and directing them to a responding officer at UTM.
According to UTM’s police manager, Robert Messacar, in an interview with The Medium, incoming emergency calls are answered by highly-trained dispatchers with a background in the three U of T campuses and police calls. These dispatchers then inform the campus police about the situation, and if they cannot reach an officer, they call a local emergency unit.
Messacar informed The Medium that the previous system directed calls to either the campus police office or to constable cell phones on weekends, which left the possibility of no one answering.
In a UTM News article on November 23, “UTM Campus Police Services on new dispatch system, expanded safety programs,” Messacar stated that “this [previous] system was problematic, because we don’t have universal cell coverage everywhere on campus.”
In reference to the new dispatch system, Messacar stated that the U of T campuses in Scarborough and downtown Toronto have had this system for several years.
“We have just partnered up with them because we believe it will greatly improve our customer service,” Messcar said, noting that UTM took longer because it was waiting for a technological system upgrade to occur.
The campus police have also expanded two of their other programs. Instead of student employees working for the WalkSafer program and providing company to anyone who needs it at UTM, the police have hired official building patrollers.
Messacar stated that having student employees in the program was not feasible, since with the expansion of the program, the campus police would have had to pay both the students and the building patrollers.
“We instituted [WalkSafer] to make people feel as safe as possible. So even though the campus is a very safe place, we encourage people to give us a call,” said Messacar.
He also explained that there is a “reluctance” by many students to use this service, as they think they would “bother” the officers.
The WalkSafer program will now have a police officer that can escort students anywhere on campus, 24 hours a day for 365 days.
A Work Alone program was also implemented two months ago. It provides staff and students the chance to use a radio that can directly connect with the campus police in case of emergencies.
Messacar also referred to the 2015 annual report, which showed that “incident types” of crimes have gone down, dropping by 66 and totaling 151, compared to the 217 reported incidents in 2014.
As previously reported by The Medium, Messacar had attributed this decrease to the hiring of more staff, including two new special constables and six new building patrollers, who serve as security guards.
“UTM is a very safe campus,” said Messacar. “Out of the 15,000 something students we have, including visitors who come and go, a number of 151 is nothing.”
According to Messacar, most of the incident crimes that happen on campus fall under the category of “theft under $5,000.”