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UW-Eau Claire Police launch SafeWalk/SafeRide program

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 6:31 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has a new program making its campus safer.

The campus’ police department launched SafeWalk/SafeRide at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. It combines to prior programs, Student Patrol and Campus Cab.

The program employs students as Campus Safety Officers (CSO). They help make sure people get home safely at night.

“Students want to feel safe on campus. We feel it is a safe campus to begin with but we’re always looking for ways to enhance that,” UW-Eau Claire Police Lt. Chris Kirchman said.

He oversees the program, which is open to students, faculty and staff.

“We started looking at various universities around the nation and around the state that had similar programs and decided that would be a good one for us too,” Kirchman said.

The program operates every day during the school year from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

People can call SafeWalk/SafeRide at (715) 836-3333 and have someone walk them or give them a ride to their destination.

They can only go to and from university buildings. That includes off-campus housing like Haymarket Landing Apartments.

“It’s a great service when later in the night when busses aren’t running, instead of walking back to your off-campus housing or walking back up the hill here, you can call and we can provide you a safety escort to make sure you get there safely,” UWEC senior Sajsa Butler said.

She was one of the students who helped campus police create the program.

The criminal justice major said she hopes to go into law enforcement. Right now, being a CSO is a great opportunity to get her feet wet in the profession.

“The experience has been very rewarding,” Butler said. “It’s very cool to see yourself as a student help develop something for the bigger picture of your university and police department. It has allowed me to really hit the ground running on some things and develop good leadership skills.”

Kirchman said most importantly, it ensures Blugolds aren’t worrying too much about their safety at school.

“By providing this service we hope that it will help students to mainly only stress about their school work and not have to stress about feeling safe leaving a class at 8:30 at night and having to walk back to a residents hall or having to walk back to a car,” he said.

Kirchman added that safe walks and rides come with no questions asked unless someone’s safety is in danger.

He also said when on shift, CSOs walk in pairs for their safety.

Campus police is hiring campus safety officers. It’s only open to students. They can contact campus police about the position.

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