The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Campus safety showdown: Comparison between DePaul’s Public Safety and Marquette’s campus police reveals key differences

Rose O’Keeffe
A police car for the Marquette University police sits in front of the MUPD station in Milwaukee on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023. Students say they feel comfortable walking to the station at night.

Marquette University in downtown Milwaukee buzzed with weekend anticipation Friday as students walked to and from class across Wisconsin Avenue, just a few blocks from their campus police headquarters.

It did not take long for the Marquette University Police Department’s (MUPD) navy and yellow vehicles to blend into the campus scene. Whether parked on busy streets, patrolling near residence halls, or monitoring the university’s parking garages, MUPD is a steady presence that students said is reassuring.

“I feel like it’s a lot more safe, especially being in the city, than a campus that doesn’t have police,” Maddie Brantman, a Marquette sophomore, said.  She finds it comforting that she can call MUPD for an escort or even walk to their centrally located station at night.

Unlike Marquette, Loyola University, Northwestern University and UIC, DePaul has never had its own police force. Instead, it opts for the Department of Public Safety. 

Public Safety goals are to protect life and property on campus, prevent crime and educate the DePaul community about safety practices.  The department is grounded by the belief that “it is more prudent to prevent crimes than to react to them after the fact,” according to Public Safety’s website. 

This goal suggests a proactive approach to crime management, but with the recent surge in on-campus robberies, some community members are calling for more drastic changes to Public Safety itself. 

DePaul sophomore Kere Eno wants DePaul to establish a campus police force. 

“Having police on campus can’t hurt,” Eno said. “It could help students feel safer and police officers could help de-escalate situations that are in the general vicinity.”

She said having a consistent law enforcement presence could be beneficial but should be considered regardless of the recent spike in crime. 

MUPD Assistant Chief Jeff Kranz said the university hired him in Oct. 2014 to aid in the transition from Public Safety to campus police. MUPD was officially commissioned in May 2015.

Kranz told The DePaulia this change was motivated by “an overall concern for safety and how to better serve students at Marquette,” not any particular incident. 

Kranz said MUPD was modeled after Loyola University’s police and has since had success creating campus police with a small-town approach.

“The biggest advantage I see is to be able to deliver a personalized policing service to Marquette and the community that surrounds it,” he said. 

MUPD is fully funded by Marquette University and includes police officers and public safety officers within the force. 

“If our Public Safety officers were instead licensed police officers through the state of Illinois, the DePaul community would no longer be our officers’ only responsibility.”

— Robert Wachowski, Director of DePaul Public Safety

Apps and Escorts

After dark, Marquette’s campus was quiet Friday, Oct. 6. The occasional student posse shuffled across Westown Square, a campus space similar to DePaul’s Quad. Even more visible were the many emergency blue light towers, accessible at different points on campus.

Several Marquette students referenced the “EagleEye” app and “EagleExpress” shuttle as means for feeling safe. 

The “EagleEye” app is a one-stop hub for safety procedures and real-time assistance from MUPD. It has a mobile blue light function that dispatches MUPD to the cellphone’s location at the press of a button, in addition to over 400 physical blue lights around campus. 

DePaul does not have an app exclusively for safety information and resources. Public Safety sends alerts via email when incidents occur on or near campus and encourages students to call their dispatch number with concerns. 

Public Safety also offers an escort service to students on the Lincoln Park campus in addition to the Vinnie Van shuttle.

Lori Martinez, Marquette sophomore and legislative vice president of Marquette’s student government, said an MUPD officer is assigned to each residence hall to foster community-driven policing.

Students can contact MUPD to report incidents because response times are faster than that of the Milwaukee Police Department, Martinez said. 

“MUPD is not only for big theft cases and burglaries, they’re also here just to monitor our buildings,” Martinez said, which is what DePaul’s Public Safety is also used for. 

Kranz said he could not speculate how much it would cost for DePaul to convert to a police force but said Marquette’s transition nearly 10 years ago was made simpler and cheaper because of how well-equipped their Public Safety was. 

“Our public safety was already fully uniformed. They were already armed, so equipment didn’t cost a ton,” he said. 

DePaul’s Public Safety officers are not armed and cannot arrest or charge perpetrators.

Marquette’s student body is roughly half that of DePaul’s. In 2021, Marquette reported having 11,320 students. In 2022, DePaul had 20,917.

However, Marquette’s officers have more ground to cover with one 107-acre campus than DePaul’s two campuses covering 41 acres.

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  • Campus police have arrest powers, while Public Safety does not.

Public Safety vs. Police

The Director of DePaul’s Public Safety Robert Wachowski said the university has previously considered forming a campus police force. However, he said administrators ultimately decided that Public Safety “meets the needs of the university community in a way that a campus police force would not.”

Since Public Safety is an office within the university, Wachowski said protecting DePaul’s campus community is his team’s sole responsibility.

“If our Public Safety officers were instead licensed police officers through the state of Illinois, the DePaul community would no longer be our officers’ only responsibility,” Wachowski said in an Oct. 11 statement to The DePaulia. “They would instead be responsible by law to respond to calls from Lincoln Park community members.” 

Wachowski said DePaul Public Safety has a longstanding, effective partnership with the Chicago Police Department (CPD).

“When a victim alerts Public Safety to a crime, we work with the victim on next steps, whether that’s connecting with CPD (if they haven’t already been called), other services or turning the case over to our in-house investigator,” Wachowski said in the statement.

Kranz, however, said having campus police eliminates the chain of command from public safety staff to city police and instead allows in-depth investigations and quicker response times. 

“As public safety, you do what you do to initiate an investigation, but then you end up waiting for the local police department to pick it up from there,” Kranz said. 

Even so, some DePaul students agree that a campus police force is unnecessary. 

“Adding an authority figure affiliated with the law on campus sends a threatening message to students,” DePaul sophomore Anna Tronstad said. “Campus should feel comfortable for all, and I don’t believe adding a police officer will accomplish that goal.”

Kranz conceded that having a police force wasn’t a cure-all for Milwaukee’s 2022 spike in crime.

Crime Spike Response

“I’d love to say, we’ve had this huge impact, but we’re so driven by what’s going on in the city,” he said. 

Crime that year included three armed robberies on Marquette’s campus within three weeks, prompting university president Michael Lovell to assemble a presidential task force for safety. 

Six months after the task force implemented safety improvements – such as installing more blue emergency lights and security cameras, increasing residence hall security and expanding EagleExpress shuttle service – The Marquette Wire reported a 46% decrease in robberies and a 26% decrease in vehicle thefts.

DePaul President Robert Manuel has promised similar changes to increase safety following recent crimes on campus, which include five robberies and several instances of battery on campus since Aug. 31.

In an update to the DePaul community Oct. 9, university administration said CPD has increased patrols on DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus, and the university is actively hiring more Public Safety officers. In addition, university workers also painted blue light stations in the Sheffield parking garage to make them more visible.  

Rhonda DeLong, police officer and DePaul criminology professor said DePaul should strongly consider creating campus police even with recent Public Safety improvements. 

“I really think because of the size of the campus and the location that a sworn police agency would be the way to go,” DeLong said. 

She said she has encountered many universities smaller than DePaul with campus police. Nevertheless, she recognized many students’ apprehension about a consistent campus law enforcement presence. 

“I feel that DePaul would benefit from such a transition if — and only if —– the selection and training process seeks out those with a community philosophy rather than an enforcement one,” DeLong said.

Community policing –— a philosophy of organizational strategies that DeLong said promotes service instead of strict law enforcement –— fosters trust and relationships between police and the people they serve.

She said if a campus police force was carefully trained under this model, many students’ fears about an overwhelming, toxic police presence could be dispelled. 

“There are times when communities have implemented a community policing philosophy and the reported crime rate actually goes up because there’s a trust level that’s been developed,” she said. “People know how to organize and they have the assurance that their officers are going to respond.”

Despite his confidence in MUPD, Kranz did not explicitly recommend campus police to DePaul.

“It’s something you don’t want to rush into,” he said. “You need to hear from a lot of the different communities that you’re going to have an impact on. And that’s not necessarily just the campus community.”

He said Marquette held several listening sessions before MUPD’s commissioning to determine how the community wanted to be policed and to address concerns about over policing and profiling. 

As DePaul’s safety is closely scrutinized, the university is considering new solutions like possibly making DePaul a closed campus. As of now, Public Safety continues to serve as DePaul’s dominant mode of campus security. 

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  • C

    CherOct 16, 2023 at 2:40 pm

    Why was Marquette specifically picked as a comparison to DePaul? It’s never explained the point of comparing the two, other than both big cities? What are current crime statistics like compared to “crime spikes” on campus in previous years? Where is the evidence that campus police are even helpful/effective and was any thought given to the negative impacts a campus police force might have… other than asking the cop? Seems like a blatantly pro-cop piece with little explanation around what led to this and exploration of other opinions.

  • R

    Rebecca JonesOct 16, 2023 at 5:58 am

    I appreciate the thorough comparison between a campus police department verves campus security. I think it would be worthwhile for DePaul to continue this conversation.