NAUPD not understaffed
By Gary Collins
A rumor has circulated stating Northern Arizona University Police Department (NAUPD) is understaffed and, therefore, campus security is compromised, but, according to NAUPD Community Relations Officer Joe Tritschler, that is not the case.
“We do have adequate staffing for our numbers,” Tritschler said. “We’re actually doing a little bit better than ASU [concerning] the number of officers per thousand [students]. ASU just dips slightly below one per thousand and we’re just a little above one per thousand.”
Currently, NAUPD is budgeted for 18 officers. However, they are down one officer because of a lateral transfer of the officer to ASU. They do have an officer candidate who is currently training at the Phoenix Police Academy and will then complete field training before entering the NAUPD force.
The number of officers on the force was raised from 17 to 18 at the end of spring 2011 due to the increase of the student population.
“Any police department in this country would tell you right now, ‘We would love to have more officers,’” Tritschler said. “NAU’s on that list. We have things we would like to do.”
Saying it is a great way to interact with the student community, Tritschler would like to see the ability to have a bike patrol on campus. He did state this not possible at this time because an officer on bike patrol is limited in his ability to facilitate an arrest owing to his inability to transport a suspect to jail on a bicycle.
While they do not have a dedicated walking patrol, NAUPD do patrol on foot.
“We get out and walk . . . park their car, walk through the building, walk around the building,” Tritschler said. “We do that a lot in the parking garages because that is where people like to congregate.”
Out of NAUPD’s 18 officers, five hold administrative positions. However, all five of those officers are ready at any time to head into the field as needed.
In fact, during the interview with The Lumberjack, Tritschler indicated the radio he was carrying and the handcuffs in his belt to emphasize the point. Further, he stressed the cooperative nature of all the agencies in the area: The Coconino County Sherriff’s Office, Flagstaff Police Department and Arizona Department of Public Safety are all available to offer assistance. The same is true when outside agencies require NAUPD assistance.
“We actually go off campus to help Flagstaff Police more than they come on campus to help us,” Tritschler said.
NAUPD patrols more than just on campus. Officers will routinely go off campus to check locations that students are known to frequent or transit through, such as Target.
What Tritschler stressed most about student safety is the importance of locking dorm room doors. According to him, this is the surest way that one can protect oneself and one’s property.