The city of Atlanta has seen quite a turn resulting from the Black Lives Matter movement. A conversation grew in part of the movement to defund police departments across the country.
Recently, young adults and college students have spearheaded the movements for social issues across the nation and one might wonder how this will impact the upcoming school year.
According to Georgia State’s 2019 Safety Net magazine, the Georgia State Police Department is the largest campus police department in the state.
With 126 police officers and 114 security officers across all six campuses, the GSUPD is preparing for a bumpy semester ahead.
The GSUPD monitored the Atlanta protests and provided traffic control at or near campus.
Georgia State’s Chief of Police Joseph Spillane believes that the GSUPD is on the right side of social issues today
“Personal opinions are not relevant and can cloud appropriate police responses to a variety of social issues,” he said. “[The] GSUPD has always supported peaceful demonstrations and strives to provide police protection to preserve life, prevent injury and prevent property damage during protests.”
The Assistant Chief of Police Anthony Coleman expressed his support for the cause and protesting itself as long as it remains lawful.
“What I do strive for is a world where we all be treated equally and are able [to] enjoy life to its fullest,” he said.
The police department prepares to have new strategies and police officers to accommodate over 50,000 Georgia State students in the fall.
According to the Georgia State Security website, the administration plans on doubling the number of police officers that regularly patrol campuses. Additional security cameras will also be installed throughout the Atlanta campus. The locations for the security cameras have not been determined yet.
Spillane said that the department has reallocated staffing and adjusted hours to keep the Panther community safe. They are wary of the protests occurring in the city, but do not anticipate any issues on campus.
Coleman reminded students to report any suspicious activity to the LIVESAFE app which can also be used for police escorts. The Crime Prevention office will be offering training classes for students to enroll in.
Though the GSUPD continues to make the necessary efforts, students believe that more should be done.
“I think that they could use some revamping. They do not seem to be very professional, and they do not seem to be around when you need them,” Katlyn Vercher, a Georgia State student, said.
She went on to express the uncertainty she felt with the department and their response to larger crimes across the campus.
Chris McKnight, a Georgia State alumnus, serves as a resident assistant within the University Housing department. Part of his job required him to frequently interact with the police department on campus.
“On a number of occasions, I recall GSUPD arriving late to incidents that I requested their assistance on,” he said.
He said that there was a lack of seriousness to housing calls from the Georgia State Police. He did, however, note that they held a “commanding presence” in situations where law enforcement was warranted.
“I never heard of a time where an officer instigated an interaction with an RA or resident while holding a threatening demeanor,” McKnight said.
Regardless of how officer-student interactions persist, time will tell how the GSUPD responds to enforcing COVID-19 and other safety regulations in the fall.