Public Safety & U — May 2023
Especially now that the weather is turning and community members will be out and about more often, Drexel Public Safety (DPS) wants to give Dragon commuters of all kinds the tips you need to stay safe while on the go. And speaking of being out and about, Public Safety is hosting and participating in a number of events this month that you’re invited to join. Plus: Drexel commemorates all fallen officers on Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15).
How to Stay Safe While on the Go
Whether you’re traveling by foot, car, bike or public transit, Drexel Public Safety has you covered with essential commuter safety tips, guidance, and resources. Remember that you are encouraged to report any crimes or suspicious activity to 911, or to 215.895.2222 if you’re on Drexel’s University City Campus.
Traveling by Bike
May is National Bike Safety Month, so it makes sense to start here. Biking can be a fun, efficient and sustainable way to get around the city, especially with the expansion of separated bike lanes in many neighborhoods, including University City. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has a wealth of resources to help you understand the rules of the road for cyclists in Philadelphia, how to secure your bike, the best places and routes to ride, and much more. Drexel Public Safety also has the following tips:
- Make use of protected bike lanes whenever possible.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Keep a photo of your bike and record its serial number as this could aid in locating your bike if it is lost or stolen. Additionally, registering your bike with Drexel Police at 3219 Arch will help us notify you upon recovery. Lock your bike with a quality U lock and cable and replace quick releases with locking skewers (view Drexel Police Sgt. Santiago’s video for a tutorial on properly locking your bike).
Did you know? As of this month, Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA)’s new Bicycle Lane Enforcement unit will begin patrolling and enforcing bike lane regulations in selected Philadelphia neighborhoods. Visit the PPA blog for more information.
Traveling by Foot
Last year, Public Safety & U provided an overview of laws pertaining to pedestrians, which can vary state by state (in Pennsylvania, the rights and duties of pedestrians are outlined in the Vehicle Code). Whether it’s the law or just common sense, the following tips will go a long way to keeping you safe whether you’re out for a stroll or rushing to class:
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available. If no sidewalk is available, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
- There is a lot of construction around campus, so be mindful of sidewalk closures and follow all posted signage directing you to safe pathways.
- Cross within crosswalks and follow “walk” signs when applicable, and never assume a driver sees you. Indicate your intention to cross and wait for vehicles to stop or drivers to acknowledge that they see you.
- Always be visible. At night, wear reflective materials, apply reflective tape and/or use a flashlight.
- Stay alert, keep your head up and walk with confidence. If you’re listening to music, use only one earbud. When possible, walk in pairs or groups, especially at night. Request a walking escort 24/7 through the Drexel Guardian App or by calling 215.895.2222.
Traveling by Transit
SEPTA has a free Transit Watch App (on iOS or Google Play) that all transit riders are encouraged to download and use to discreetly report safety and security concerns with SEPTA Transit Police. To increase your own personal safety on public transit, follow these tips:
- Remain aware of your surroundings. Wait for the train or bus while maintaining distance from the platform or curb, and keep your phone securely stored away.
- Be wary of and maintain space from individuals who are: loitering, panhandling, expressing an unusual level of interest in operations, equipment, personnel or facilities, standing in a private or restricted area of transit property without proper identification or clear purpose, and/or acting in a disorderly manner that alarms others.
- Report individuals appearing outwardly dangerous or threatening to 911 or SEPTA’s Transit Police via the Transit Watch App.
- You can find safety tipsheets for all forms of SEPTA transit on their website.
Traveling by Rideshare
Take advantage of in-app safety features offered by rideshare providers like Uber and Lyft that allow you to, for example, share information about your ride with friends and family members. (You can also use the Drexel Guardian app for this kind of tracking as you make your way from point A to point B.) When using these services, always follow these safety guidelines:
- Order your rideshare while indoors, and do not go outside until your driver arrives.
- Before entering the car, check that the license plate, make, model and color of the vehicle match what’s in your app.
- Check that the driver matches the photo and name in the app.
- Verify that the driver knows your name. If they do not say your name explicitly, DO NOT get into the vehicle, and leave the area immediately.
Traveling by Vehicle
Drivers have a huge role to play in making sure our roads are safe for everyone — pedestrians, bike riders, drivers and passengers. In addition, there are important steps you can take to keep your vehicle safe from theft. Follow these tips:
- Have your key ready when you approach your parked vehicle, and check to make sure no one is hiding around or inside your car.
- Do not leave anything valuable in a parked car; remove GPS mounts as well as any wires or loose change. Before leaving your parked car, always remove the keys, roll up the windows, lock the car and check your surroundings. If you park on the street, choose a well-lit, open space.
- While on the road, obey posted speed limits and other traffic signs.
- Wear your seatbelt, no matter the distance you are driving. Make sure your mirrors and seat are adjusted properly before you depart.
- Drive defensively and always be alert of your surroundings. Do not make phone calls or text while driving.
- If you see a parked vehicle requiring assistance, do not stop. Call for aid.
- If you are deliberately forced to stop your vehicle, then lock the doors, roll up the windows and sound the horn for help. If you are followed or harassed by someone in another vehicle, drive to a police department, fire station, or open business and seek help. Do not drive into your driveway or park in a deserted area.
For detailed safety tips and rules regarding aggressive driving, distracted driving, pedestrian safety, work zone safety, and much more, please visit PennDOT’s website.
Recognizing Peace Officers Memorial Day
May 9 marks the start of events held for National Police Week, during which Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15) occurs. At this time annually, the country pays special recognition to local, state and federal law enforcement officers who have lost their lives or sustained disabling injury in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others. For more information about Peace Officers Memorial Day and other ways to observe National Police Week, visit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund website.
A Police Chaplain’s Thoughts on Police Memorial Week
by Drexel University Police Department (DUPD) Officer Morgan Meehan
It happens every year at this time: Police Memorial Week. It is when, if we permit it, that we think of our own mortality and we reflect upon those officers that have gone before us.
In preparation for writing this message, I did research on grief and loss. I couldn’t find anything that would help me to convey the feeling of or strategies to deal with loss. Instead, I’ll focus on love.
Our love for one another is what opens us up to the profound sense of loss we feel when we lose someone. It is a coin which has two sides, and one cannot exist without the other. Simply said, the price we pay for loving will eventually be grief. This is an inescapable truth. However, there is good news. The void that grief creates in our hearts is eventually filled with love as the grief wanes. That is the better news; grief does wane.
We have all suffered loss; it is part of our shared experience. As police officers, we are stoic figures and pillars of strength … and human beings. We are the example of calm that people look to when things aren’t so calm. This image that we must project doesn’t exclude us from fully experiencing loss. Experiencing the entire spectrum of emotion is something we owe to ourselves and to the people we serve.
Take 15 minutes and reflect upon those whom we have lost either professionally or personally. I’ll wager that if sufficient time has passed, there will be far more smiles than tears. And, by the way, both smiles and tears are OK.
I ask you, if you are inclined to, keep all police officers in your prayers, and please know that every member of Public Safety is committed to your well-being.
Property Registration at Civic Engagement Fair: May 12
In partnership with the Undergraduate Student Government Association, look for DPS at the Civic Engagement Fair on May 12 from 2–5 p.m. on Lancaster Walk. Bring your bikes, laptop and other items, as an officer will be onsite for property registration. We’ll also have a second table full of resources, trivia and prizes.
Cookies with Cops: May 17
Join Public Safety on May 17 from 2–4 p.m. on Korman Quad for an afternoon treat and conversation with Drexel Police. In addition to monthly scheduled Cookies with Cops, look for officers “popping up” around campus and in the community for other fun events.
Have an event or hotspot on campus you’d like Drexel Police to come to? Send your suggestions to Linda Moran, firstname.lastname@example.org.
DPS Educational Programs: Learn How to Protect Yourself
In addition to the SAFE classes described above, 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. Additional topics covered are 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 and identify solutions.
Have You Heard? There’s a New Format for SAFE Classes
To better suit Dragons’ schedules, Public Safety has modified its self-protection program, Self-Awareness for Everyone (SAFE), by splitting it into two sessions: SAFE I and SAFE II. These two-hour classes offer the same important information and hands-on techniques as the original class. Due to the hands-on nature of the class, we strongly recommend that you register with a fellow Dragon. Participation in the techniques is recommended, but not required.
- SAFE I begins with a brief overview of the class and explains the reporting processes, mindset and various free public safety services that are provided. We will focus on stances and patterns of movement, then give a general overview of striking (such as punching palm strikes). We will also explain how to kick and knee properly. We end SAFE I with instructions on how to defend against arm grabs and some chokes. SAFE I classes will be offered the second week of every month on Monday and Wednesday from 5–7 p.m. (May 8, May 10, June 12, June 14)
- SAFE II begins with a quick review of SAFE I lessons. We then transition to defense from both arm grabs and body grabs, and then explore various techniques from the ground (for example: how to defend against an assailant that is sitting on top of you). 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. (May 22, May 24, June 26, June 28)
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.
215.895.2222 or 911
To learn more about Drexel Public Safety, visit drexel.edu/publicsafety.