DePaul Public Safety aims to protect students, campus


DePaulia Staff

DePaul’s Public safety department offers 24/7 safety services to students – but only when they are on campus.

DePaul is the largest catholic university in the U.S. and had a 2021 enrollment of over 21,000 students spread over two campuses. While the university opened in 1898, DePaul’s Security Department was officially established in 1975, said Robert Wachowski, DePaul’s director of Public Safety. 

DePaul’s 75 full-time officers, however, are unarmed. Loyola University Chicago, which had a 2021 enrollment of under 12,000 students, has both a campus security and armed police force.. University of Chicago has an even smaller student body of less than 8,000. However, University of Chicago’s campus security has 100 armed officers.

While other universities have a police force with largely the same duties as city police, DePaul’s officers act as liaisons for the university. 

“The responsibilities of Public Safety officers differ from Chicago Police in a number of ways,” Wachowski said. “Chicago-sworn police officers have a broad responsibility, including managing crime on all of Chicago’s streets.”

Among the goals of DePaul Public Safety officers are the protection of life and property on campus, prevention of crime on campus, preservation of the peace on campus, enforcement of all laws and ordinances on campus, and educating the DePaul community on being safety conscious,” Wachowski said. 

Some students feel unsafe, particularly on the Loop campus, as students and faculty frequently receive notifications about public safety issues in that area.

 “I definitely don’t feel as safe traveling to the Loop [campus] by myself,” said freshman psychology student Simi Singh. “I am not a fan of public transportation and the red line in general.”  

“The presence of Public Safety officers on campus both makes some students feel more assured, as well as acts as a deterrent to crime,” Wachowski said. “They also patrol campus on foot, bike and in vehicles. Research shows that having uniformed officers visible is a deterrent to crime.”

Seeing officers, even unarmed, around campus helps some students feel safer on campus. 

“I do feel safer just because I always [see] them around and just because [Lincoln Park] campus is smaller and more enclosed,” Singh said. “I know we’re an open campus for sure, but I think in terms [of] public safety and the staff here, I do feel pretty safe.”

One service that the Public Safety department has is an escort line to help students get back home at night safely. 

“Public Safety officers are available 24/7 on both campuses and are conduits to local police, fire, hospitals and support networks,” Wachowski said. “They also provide escort service on the Lincoln Park campus from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.”

Having an unarmed security escort service makes students, such as Singh, feel safer, but that may not be the case if they were to be armed. 

“I don’t know how I would feel about [armed officers] just because I know I do take the escort line pretty often, [so] I don’t know how I would feel [about] being in a car with someone armed,” Singh said. “I think [municipal] police and Public Safety should be separate.”

However, in a country where gun violence and mass shootings are all too common, and particularly after a deadly shooting at Michigan State University last month, some students feel having armed officers could help prevent an event from happening at DePaul.

“I think I would prefer [Public Safety officers] to be armed,” freshman Kyla Prater said. “I don’t necessarily feel unsafe, [but] Chicago is still a pretty dangerous place. I would rather them [be armed]. If they were armed, [in the event of] a serious incident on campus they could actually respond in an actual manner.”

Students who wish to contact Public Safety officers may do so by calling  773-325-7777 for Lincoln Park campus incidents, or 312-362-8400 for the Loop campus. Lincoln Park students who need escort services can call 773-325-7233 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.