For the past few years, the Valparaiso University Police Department (VUPD) has hosted and sponsored different educational programs for students to learn different safety skills and learn how to protect themselves.
Advertising the program through word of mouth, Valpo police officers invite all students to engage in a list of programs they themselves have come up with over the years so that students can learn more about handling tricky situations that might occur.
“It's just safety tips. It changes from year to year as new things creep in, like fraud and identity theft start to get bigger now, a lot of people take advantage of college students,” said Assistant Deputy Officer Charles Garber.
While on campus there are a lot of things that can happen to students. These events are designed to help deal with said problems when they happen. Examples of programs include active threat preparedness, how to change a tire and jump start a car, risk management, how to work a fire extinguisher, self defense and more.
The list changes over the years as the police add more programs for students to learn. They base what they add to the list off of what students would be interested in learning as well as bringing in knowledge they have obtained from former jobs prior to being police officers.
“If a student has a safety issue they're concerned about and we don’t have a planned program we’ll make one for it, we’ll ask ‘give us a few weeks,’ and we’ll put two to three officers together to start researching it and we’ll put one together,” Garber said.
To conduct these programs, the officers try to go wherever students are. For instance, they can have the programs in the upstairs ballrooms of the Union or they can even do it in the dorm halls.
“We really try going to the students, maybe it’ll be a whole residence hall, maybe just a wing. We try asking that you have at least six people,” Garber said.
One of the most popular of all the police education programs is the self defense program. A former instance of the class once had 81 students show up. However, courses are now limited to 6 students at a time due to COVID-19.
“We love doing [the self defense course] cause we’ll do a little bit of classroom training, but then we’ll go hands on and teach people how to strike, how to kick, how to protect themselves from an attacker,” Garber said.
Another popular program that the department has is “getting to know the VUPD,” which is an interactive program that lets students talk with the different police officers and get to know them. It also allows the officers to get to know their community.
Those who would like to enroll in a course can email Chuck Garber at email@example.com for more information.