New program shows Public Safety at work

Twenty members of the Penn and University City communities are getting an up-close-and-personal look this semester at how the University works to keep its students, faculty, staff and neighbors safe and secure.

The 20 people are all participants in the Penn Public Safety Institute, a 12-week course that held its first meeting Jan. 19. It may be the first time that such a course was ever offered by a college police department, said Detective Commander Thomas L. King, who oversees the institute.

The course is designed to introduce the community to Penn’s network of public safety services and programs. Institute participants will learn about all aspects of Penn’s safety and security operations, including security technology, victim support, special services, and fire and occupational safety.

Participants will also get an overview of the criminal justice system and constitutional law, learn about domestic and workplace violence, firearms safety and police use of force, tour the Penn Police communications center and ride along with University Police officers on regular patrol.

“We were looking for ways to disseminate who we are and what we do,” said King. “In addition to our Web site [], [the safety and security] brochure and [programs on] UTV, we felt this would be a good way for people to learn about and experience police operations.”

The program is modeled on the “citizen police academies” offered in a number of cities across the country, including Philadelphia.

Besides being the first college version of the program, it is also unique in incorporating non-police safety and security services, such as fire and occupational safety, into the institute curriculum.

The 20 participants in the first Penn Public Safety Institute are nearly evenly split between women (eight) and men, and between Penn affiliates (four students and nine staff members) and residents of the University City community. King said that the Division of Public Safety had hoped to attract faculty interest in the program as well.

Public Safety will offer the institute twice each year. Those interested in enrolling for the fall should call the University Police at 215-898-9003.


Originally published on February 3, 2000