Public Safety & U — August 2023

To help you prepare for a safe start to the new academic year, this feature is jam-packed with safety tips and planning resources.
Two public safety officers in uniform and a woman stand at a table. "Public Safety & U" is written on the bottom.
Public Safety employees Elijah Hawkins, Marcus Garner and Anna Frett engaging with the community and handing out Philly pretzels at the Aug. 1 National Night Out Event. Public Safety had a great evening getting to know fellow Dragons and the greater city community!

Whether you’re returning after a summer away, or you’re a new Dragon, Drexel Public Safety looks forward to welcoming you for the upcoming fall term! To help you prepare for a safe start to the new academic year, this feature is jam-packed with safety tips and planning resources. Plus: Get to know the Department of Public Safety (DPS), and all the engaging safety programs offered year-round.

Checklist: 4 Ways to Prepare for a Safe Fall Term

1. Take These Actions Right From Your Phone:

  • Add Public Safety’s emergency phone number, 215.895.2222, to your mobile phone contacts list. This number connects you to the DPS Communications Center, and you can use it for emergencies, to request a walking escort, or to report a crime or suspicious activity. (You may also call 911 during any emergency.) Calls placed on campus blue-light emergency telephones also immediately connect to the Communications Center, as do messages sent through the Drexel Guardian app. Additional important phone numbers you might consider adding to your phone are listed on the DPS website.
  • Download the Drexel Guardian app via iOS or Google Play. In the event of an emergency, Drexel Guardian allows the Communications Center to immediately access important information about you.
  • Follow DPS on social media. Drexel Public Safety is on X (formerly Twitter) @DrexelDPS and Instagram @drexelpublicsafety.

2. Make Sure You’re Getting Safety Alerts:

  • DrexelALERT is an emergency notification system that provides fast dissemination of crime and safety alerts to Drexel students, faculty and professional staff via text messaging and email. DrexelALERT’s effectiveness depends upon individuals providing accurate personal contact information, so at the start of each term, students, faculty and professional staff are asked to confirm and update their contact information when they log in to DrexelOne. Public Safety’s website has instructions on how to confirm or update your contact information. (Please note: New, incoming students will begin to receive alerts approximately six weeks before the start of their first term.)
  • The Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management has an alert system called ReadyPhiladelphia, which anyone can sign up for to receive advisories about emergencies, road closures, severe weather, and transit delays for the city overall. To receive text alerts, simply text "ReadyPhila" to 888-777. You can also read more information and sign up on the City of Philadelphia website.

3. Remember to Bring:

  • DragonCard. It acts as your official University ID and is required to enter and exit all on-campus buildings. Drexel’s Building Access Guidelines outline accessibility parameters for campus buildings. If you lose your DragonCard and need a replacement, visit the Business Services website for instructions.
  • Bike Lock. If you’re planning to keep a bike at Drexel, bring a U-lock to ensure it remains safe on and around campus. Brush up on how to properly secure a U-lock on the DPS website. (Public Safety has a property registration program, so if your bike — or any other registered property — gets stolen, law enforcement will have valuable crime-solving information.)
  • Supplies for Residential Living. The Student Life website has an itemized list of things to pack (and what not to bring) for the year if you’re living on campus.

4. Get to Know DPS’ Units and Services

The department consists of administrative and operational units working around the clock to protect and provide safety tools and education to the Drexel community and surrounding neighborhoods. The department is made up of the following units:

  • The Drexel University Police Department (DUPD) is staffed by sworn Pennsylvania-certified police officers trained in many specialized services including first aid and CPR, investigations, crime prevention and community outreach. DUPD police officers conduct patrols by foot, vehicle and bicycle (view patrol boundary maps on the DPS website), and they maintain relationships with local law enforcement agencies and neighboring communities. DUPD also provides victim support services to those who are victims of violent crime.
  • The DPS Communications Center is staffed 24 hours per day, seven days per week as a full-service safety and emergency dispatch center. Whether you are in an emergency, need to report suspicious activity, want to request a walking escort or have any other safety concerns, dial 215.895.2222 and a DPS dispatcher will send help your way.
  • Allied Security Officers are contracted security personnel who patrol the University City, Center City and Queen Lane campuses via foot, bicycle and vehicle; provide fixed-post security in campus buildings and at events; and provide walking escort services. Allied security officers do not have the authority to make arrests.
  • The Fire and Emergency Services team works to ensure all Drexel University campuses maintain comprehensive fire and emergency preparedness practices.

Safety Spotlights: Rideshare, Panhandlers, Safe Transaction Zone & More

How to Rideshare with Care

Drexel Victim Services Coordinator Amy Spiller shared some important safety tips when using rideshare services like Uber or Lyft:

  • Plan ahead: Before you request a ride, think about where you’re headed and review the safety features in the app so you know how to use them.
  • Request your ride inside: Avoid spending unnecessary time outside alone with your phone in your hand. Instead, wait indoors until the app shows your driver has arrived.
  • Get in the right car: Before you get in the car, check that the license plate, driver photo and driver name all match what’s listed in the app. Always ask your driver, “What’s my name?” and never get into an Uber, Lyft or any other private car unless the driver can first identify you by name. Uber rides can only be requested through the app, so never get in a car with a driver who claims to work for Uber and offers a ride.
  • Avoid riding in the front seat: If you’re riding alone, sit behind the driver or in the rear passenger seat because it creates two possible exits and increases space between the driver and the passenger.
  • Share your trip details with a friend: While in route, use the app to share your driver’s name, photo, license plate and location with a friend or family member. In an Uber vehicle, swipe up on your app screen and tap “Share trip status.” For Lyft, tap ‘Safety Tools’ at the bottom of the screen and then tap “Share ride details.” The friend or family member can track your trip and see your estimated time of arrival without downloading the app. It’s best to call or text a family member or friend when you’re about to enter the vehicle and when you’ve exited it, even if you’ve also shared your ride details with them. You can also screenshot your driver’s information and send it to them while you’re waiting for the vehicle to arrive.
  • Follow your intuition: Pay attention for the entire ride, and don’t share personal information. Trust your instincts and use your best judgment; if you ever feel you’re in an emergency, call 911 immediately.

What to Do When a Stranger Asks for Money

It’s part of city living: people you don’t know stopping you to ask for money. While it’s not the norm, there have unfortunately been instances where these interactions have turned dangerous or criminal. For that reason, DPS encourages you not to give money this way; in general, it is always best to leave your valuables out of sight when out in public. If you wish to help people in need, please donate to one of the many organizations doing good work in the city, such as Philabundance and We Feed the Homeless Philly. If you are concerned about the well-being of an individual you encounter on the street, you may call Philadelphia’s homeless outreach at 215.232.1984 or 1.877.222.1984.

Yellow diamond with Drexel Police Department logo and "Online Transaction Safe Zone."

How to Exchange Goods Safely

Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay and other online forums can offer great deals, but some of them turn out too good to be true. The Drexel Police Headquarters at 3219 Arch St. can serve as a Safe Transaction Zone where buyers and sellers can meet face-to-face to complete the sales and exchanges that originate online. The front lobby, which is under 24-hour video surveillance, is available to facilitate safe transactions seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Also, electricity is provided for buyers to test electronics. (Note: Transactions involving weapons, drugs or drug paraphernalia are barred from the Safe Transaction Zone.)

Where to Park at Night in University City

There continues to be an increase in motor vehicle and electric scooter thefts within and around the University City Campus. To protect your car, consider using formal parking lots. Most Drexel-operated University City parking lots have a reduced evening rate of $1/hour, and the Drexel Parking Garage is $3/hour, from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. Please review the related Parking Services announcement for more information.

Four young adolescent boys stand next to each other on a basketball court.
Officer Tolbert spending time with some students at the Rec Center.

Get to Know Us: Officer Trent Tolbert

As a Drexel Police Officer for the past nine months, Trent Tolbert’s primary responsibilities are to serve and protect the people in the community, enforce laws on and off campus, and ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff.  

Trent has a strong passion for fitness and a love for engaging with the community. He recently competed in his first men’s natural bodybuilding competition, where he received a first-place trophy for men’s novice and second in men’s open class. Trent views fitness as a chance to shine light on the important topic of health and wellness. Prior to joining Drexel, Trent participated in many community service events pertaining to fitness with his job at the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Department. Trent plans to continue instilling the importance of health and wellness in students, coworkers, and people who live in the surrounding areas of West Philadelphia.  

When asked what his message to the community is, Trent urges his Drexel family to “always embrace the gifts that God gave you and always be an inspiration for others around you. We can all be men and women of service. Our gifts are meant to be used and served with a purpose!”

And Now, Get to Know Public Safety Even Better

As part of Vice President for Public Safety and Chief of Police Mel Singleton’s commitment to community engagement, all Drexel police officers have been issued cell phones and urged to distribute their contact number during each encounter with the Drexel community. This initiative provides DUPD with the opportunity to get to know you, and the community the chance to get to know DUPD.

A collage of photos depicting Public Safety at this year’s National Night Out event. Left to right: A police officer scooping out water ice;  a woman and a police officer; two young women holding police officer badges. on a stick; a row of police officers and poeople behind a table; police officers scooping  water ice for people.
A collage of photos depicting Public Safety at this year’s National Night Out event.

Community Commitments

National Night Out Recap and Thank You!

To say that the National Night Out event last week was a success is an understatement! With over 25 organizations represented, eight buckets of water ice scooped out, 200 burgers and 200 hot dogs grilled, countless kernels popped, and an estimated 450 people in attendance, the words thank you don’t seem to cover it. The Department of Public Safety is beyond grateful for every one of you who came out and supported this event to enhance the relationships within our community.

Own a Hyundai or Kia? Come Get a Free Steering Wheel Lock!

In partnership with Hyundai, Drexel affiliates and surrounding community residents who own a Hyundai or Kia vehicle can come to Drexel University Police Headquarters at 3219 Arch St. to pick up a steering wheel lock free of charge. A valid driver’s license and proof of Hyundai vehicle registration will be required to receive the steering wheel lock. Check out this Instagram post for more info.

Save the Date: Drexel Public Safety Day on Oct. 4

Oct. 4, 2023 is Public Safety Day! Stay tuned for more information on three events that DPS will be hosting during the day throughout campus. The day will start with National Coffee with a Cop; a Public Safety Resource Fair will be held midday; the day will end with a community event.

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Scan this QR code to sign up for a SAFE class!

Learn How to Protect Yourself With SAFE

Public Safety’s self-protection program, Self-Awareness for Everyone (SAFE), is split into two sessions: SAFE I and SAFE II. Due to the hands-on nature of the class, it is strongly recommended that you register with a fellow Dragon! Participation in the techniques is recommended, but not required. Registration is required 72 hours prior to the class. You can register via Eventbrite for these classes; they are also available by request for your group.

Want a sneak peak into what a class is like? Check out the video feature created by Drexel students, on the DPS website.

  • SAFE I classes will be offered the second week of every month on Monday and Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. Upcoming classes are on Sept. 11 and Sept. 13.
  • SAFE II classes will be offered the fourth week of every month on Monday and Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. and cannot be taken until you have completed SAFE I. Upcoming classes are on Aug. 21, Aug. 23, Sept. 25 and Sept. 27.

Additional DPS Educational Programs

You can request any of the following presentations and trainings by completing the Request a Presentation Form.

  • Your Safety Is Our Goal: This virtual workshop is a great way to learn how to stay aware of your surroundings and always be prepared, not scared, when moving through the city.
  • Fire & Emergency Services, Emergency Preparedness: The Office of Fire and Emergency Services offers tailored, data-driven awareness and training programs, by request, to help the Drexel community reduce the risks of fire, medical emergencies, elevator entrapments, power outages, gas leaks, and other common challenges.
  • Workplace Safety Program: The Public Safety & U workplace safety program is designed to empower and educate members of the Drexel community and can be customized to address the unique security challenges of your unit.

We Are Here for You When You Need Us

Please call 215.895.2222 immediately if you experience or witness a crime. Drexel’s Public Safety Communications Center is staffed 24/7 to serve you, whether or not you choose to remain anonymous when making a report. It is vital that crimes are reported promptly to Drexel Police so that they can be investigated, and so that Public Safety can connect the victim(s) with proper resources. You can also contact DPS through the Drexel Guardian app. Drexel Guardian will not track you nor share your information unless you initiate an emergency. To download the app, search for “Rave Guardian” in the app store or Google Play store.

Emergency Numbers

215.895.2222 or 911

TTY: 215.571.4141

Walking Escorts


To learn more about Drexel Public Safety, visit