By Grace McIntosh Contributing Writer
Brock Caton, director of Public Safety and Chief of Police, has a few words of advice for first year students to have a safe year at UMF.
The number one thing Caton stresses most is vehicular security. “Always lock your vehicle,” said Caton. “We have had about five or six motor vehicle burglaries in the first week.”
Caton also urges students to take care of their vehicles. “Check on your vehicle at least once a week and run your vehicle,” said Caton. “A lot of people don’t realize that if you don’t run your vehicle for months at a time your battery drains itself.” Snow removal around cars during the winter also falls under the responsibility of a resident. Caton suggests keeping a shovel and ice melt in the car.
In regards to safety around campus, Caton says, “Get off your cellphones while walking. I think that’s a big thing. I try to tell everyone look both ways, and if you see vehicles, wave. Pedestrian traffic is a big safety thing.”
Seven or eight years ago, a student was hit by oncoming traffic while crossing near Scott Hall according to Caton. Flashing lights are at many of the crosswalks surrounding UMF to prevent these kinds of accidents.
“Always tell someone where you’re going. Farmington is relatively safe, we very rarely have stranger violence,” said Caton. “But, it’s still good to tell your roommate for example, ‘Hey, I am walking down to Mcdonalds I’ll be back in thirty minutes,’ or something like that. Always have your cellphone on you, you never know.” When it comes to the best defense mechanism, Caton advises for “strength in numbers” and bringing friends along instead of going places alone.
Caton says that looking out for each other in the community is an important responsibility people should uphold. “Especially at a party with people drinking, escort the person, and even if they are on a party off-campus, get them out the door and away from the party,” said Caton. “Call us, we’ll come help you out.”
Along with Public Safety, there are many resources on campus that are available to students. There are four areas the Center of Student Development specializes in: testing, career, advising and counseling. Director of the Center of Student Development (CSD) Bob Pederson said, “Last year we had over 5000 individual appointments among the four areas.”
Caton works closely with Pederson to the benefit of the UMF community. “I sit down with Bob Pederson… we’re always constantly talking and communicating and trying to find better ways to deal with certain situations,” said Caton. When it comes to Pederson and Caton’s most important aspect of their job, maintaining a confidential and safe environment for students is on the top of their priority.
Public Safety has contact with groups such as SAPARS, Safe Voices and various behavioral health services for students who might need them. “When in doubt, contact us, we have connections and can help you be put in the right direction,” said Caton.
Public Safety offers an escort program at night on campus so that if someone does not feel safe they can give the on-duty officer a call at (207)-778-7400.