By Krista Murray
UPPER BURRELL, Pa.—Throughout the fall semester of 2013, the security team at Penn State New Kensington worked hard to ensure the safety of every student on campus.
Leading the security team this year is the newly appointed Public Safety Manager, Wesley Sheets, who stated that his number one priority on campus is developing a safe environment for students, staff, and guests.
“Our campus has been historically very safe and it is my main job to help ensure it stays that way,” Sheets said. “However, while we have always been a safe and secure institution, no one is ever immune from the ways of the world.”
As Public Safety Manager, Sheets said he carries out tasks such as overseeing all investigations of criminal and non-criminal complaints, controlling any illegal activity on campus, managing campus parking, assessing the training needs and requirements for all security staff, conducting safety meetings, as well as many other safety efforts.
Like any other campus, many potential emergency situations could arise and Sheets said that the security team is ready for anything that might come its way, which could include man-made or weather emergencies.
“Penn State has an Emergency Management department and an Environmental, Health and Safety department both providing resources to help our campus prepare and prevent potential emergencies from occurring,” Sheets said. “Unfortunately some emergencies, such as severe weather, are unavoidable so we plan for the worst in an ongoing effort to be adequately prepared to protect all persons and property before, during and after the emergency.”
There are several ways for PSNK students to know if there is an emergency on campus including the highly successful PSUTXT alerts that allow campus security to inform any student that has registered online of an emergency through a single text message.
“PSUTXT is a service designed to alert the Penn State community when situations arise that affect the ability of a campus to function normally,” Sheets said. “All members of our community should register for this service to help guarantee they are aware of any potential or ongoing emergencies to our campus.”
Although PSUTXT alerts and other strategic plans are necessary, campus security has not had to put these emergency plans into action often. Therefore, the security team works diligently in providing a safe environment through normal day-to-day activities.
Some tasks performed by the security team include parking lot and building patrols, providing safety escorts to vehicles, completing security checklists, reporting suspicious activities, and executing other forms of security to ensure campus safety.
“Our security team is a wonderful group of individuals who provide a great deal of services to help ensure campus safety,” Sheets said.
One member of the PSNK security team, Chester Howell, said he has worked on campus for almost nine years, and can mostly be seen at the security desk near the front entrance of campus. Howell primarily performs the tasks of surveillance, reporting, and presence.
“PSNK is a very safe campus,” Howell said. “Safety is our number one priority.”
Sophomore student and resident of the Nittany Highland Apartments just off of campus, Brad Silk, had nothing but good things to say about campus security.
“I have never felt unsafe while in or outside of the campus,” Silk said. “The security on campus is great and you can tell that they take their jobs seriously.”
“No concern is ever too small or insignificant; our department would rather find out for ourselves that there is no problem or threat then to find out too late that there was,” Sheets said.. “If you see something, say something.”
Along with campus security, students can be proactive in ensuring campus safety by reporting any suspicious activity within and around campus by calling the PSNK security direct line at 724-334-6120.