College police department changes classification - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

College police department changes classification

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) -

Three Rivers College Police Department just transformed into a Public Safety Department.

That means not only to they fight crime, but now help with other emergencies too.  

"If I got off work late at night, you see them out roaming around," said student Jessica Dale.

Dale says she likes know the Public Safety officers are close.

"They are here to watch you know when I get out of my car going up to my door it's just you know they're all the time around, so it's really convenient," said Dale.

"We house 200 students on campus, 24 hours a day here, law enforcement officers that are well trained need to be providing that protection," said Three Rivers College President Devin Stephenson.

Now Stephenson says students have even more reason to appreciate the officers.

Under the new Department of Public Safety title, officers will be trained in fire and medical aid to help students and faculty until paramedics or firefighters arrive.

"Because we're able to provide all these services, I think they're more comfortable with us being around," said Michelle Madsen, the Assistant Chief of Police. "They feel safer with us being on campus, and we've been told that by several of the students."

"It's really convenient because we don't have to call the ambulance if its something little," said Dale.

"The students are walking with a higher step, and they feel much more comfortable here," said Stephenson.

The new designation means new opportunities for state funding, meaning new grants and money to pay for this new training.

The students aren't just getting protection from the officers, they're also getting an education. The officers teach in the school's criminal justice department.

"We seem to have more enrollment every year, every semester, and as that happens we're going to continue to grow as a department because it's going to take more officers to assist students with things," said Madsen.

There's also talk about creating a new building for the department and Public Safety Institute. Plans are not final, but the building could also serve as a disaster relief center in case of a state emergency.

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