UPD talks role on campus, safety

Dominique Brown, Staff Reporter

In a town with multiple police forces, the University Police Department stands out.

Chief Kent Martin, who has been with the department since 1997 and has been serving as chief of the department since 2016, said the biggest difference between his police department and the Charleston Police Department is that CPD deals with the same people over time.

“Typically, someone who is a student at Eastern is going to graduate and move on in four years,” Martin said. “Whereas I still hear the Charleston officers dealing with some of the same people that they were dealing with when I came out here 22 years ago.”

Officer Samantha Berry, an Eastern alumna, said it is a common misconception that UPD officers are not real police officers.

“We go to the same academy as Charleston or any other city police department,” Berry said.

Berry added Eastern focuses on the campus rather than the Charleston community as a whole.

“Our main focus is campus, campus property, students, the faculty and the staff, things like that,” Berry said. “Our main priority is campus and it’s safety.”

Eastern has 22 emergency phones on campus that can be found around campus for students when they need assistance or feel unsafe.

The UPD website suggests three things for students on the safety and preparedness section: stay secure, be aware and report incidents.

On-campus residents are encouraged to lock their doors, not lend their building or room keys to anyone and avoid traveling alone at night.

They also suggest knowing where the emergency phones can be found, so in case of an emergency help can be sent as soon as possible.

Any incidents can be reported by calling 911, using an emergency phone or 217-581-3212.

Berry suggested students should be aware of their surroundings when walking around campus.

“At night don’t walk with your head down on your phone,” Berry said. “Walk in well-lit areas and pay attention before you cross the street.”

For students living in the residence halls, Berry said they should make sure to protect their belongings.

“If you’re living on campus make sure you’re locking your dorms. People will go to the shower and to the bathroom and other people will walk in,” Berry said. “To keep yourself safe and your stuff safe, just lock your doors.”

Martin said he feels all students should feel safe while on campus.

“We have a very safe campus in a safe part of town,” Martin said. “The biggest piece of advice I could offer would be secure your valuables.”

In UPD’s station, located on 7th Street and Grant Avenue south of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, students can purchase parking passes, pay for parking tickets and speak to an officer.

For students who need police assistance while not on or around campus in Charleston, the CPD station is located at 614 6th St. in downtown Charleston.

Corryn Brock contributed to this story.

Dominique Brown can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].