When Youngstown State University Police Chief John Beshara took command in February, he identified a need for officers to focus more attention on the campus’ inner core, especially around high-traffic areas like Kilcawley Center and Maag Library.
Although Beshara sends marked police cars out to patrol the campus borders in an effort to discourage crime, officers are also spending more time on their feet to closely monitor the areas within.
University police officers have long patrolled on foot, but the initiative to refresh the importance of such patrols began in May.
“You can’t walk through a building if you’re in a car,” Beshara said. Officers interact with people to build connections, learning who belongs on campus and who could create problems. They make periodic stops around campus to stay familiar with the landscape.
“We patrol all of YSU’s campus,” Beshara said. “No matter where it’s at, we patrol it all.”
Beshara said he has received much positive feedback from officers. They enjoy the interaction with students and staff. Foot patrols also provide officers with a fresh perspective on keeping campus safe and give them mobility, allowing them to walk freely through buildings on campus.
Officers modify their patrol techniques according to activity on campus and the needs of students.
“If we know kids are going to have a party up on the north end, we provide that information to the officers working,” Beshara said. Lt. Mike Cretella said the department tries to balance security on campus with student safety off campus.
“A lot of our student athletes, they live between Fifth Avenue and Ohio Avenue,” he said.
Beshara said YSU Police has a contract with the Youngstown Police Department, which grants officers the authority to go as far north as Crandall Avenue and as far south as the Mahoning River. The extended patrol ensures that those living in nearby areas are also being protected.