CWU police ensures student safety at night


Casey Rothgeb

Blue light telephones scattered around campus are one of the safety measures to protect students.

Star Diavolikis, Staff Reporter

CWU police are taking many measures in an effort to ensure student safety at night. This includes patrolling campus, offering a service that has police accompany a student to their destination and promoting a safety app called Rave Guardian.

Rave Guardian is an app available on both the App Store and Google Play Store. This app allows the user to set up a “guardian angel,” designating a friend that will be able to track the student as they walk from one place to another.

“If I don’t get [to my set destination], it’ll alert whoever my guardian angel is and let them know I wasn’t there,” Assistant Chief of Police Eric Twaites said. “Or if something else comes up and since I’m the one that sent out the request to follow me, I can cancel it as well.”

To start the app, the student must sign up by using their phone number, getting a verification number and ensuring a school email is linked to the account. 

The interface will display six options to choose from depending on what service is needed for the student at any time. The student will also be able to add emergency contacts and any vehicles used by said student onto their account.

“[The app] also has many resources available, such as a resource list,” Police Chief Jason Berthon-Koch said. “We know a lot of our students come from outside of Ellensburg obviously, and they’re traveling through the winter months, so we wanted to provide a quick link for the students to be able to click on that and to see the road conditions are to wherever they’re traveling.”

Campus police consistently patrol the grounds whether by foot, vehicle or bike if weather permits. Twaites said campus police patrol 24/7 and 365 days a year.

The third service that campus police assist with is if a student feels unsafe at night, they can request a police officer to walk them to their destination. This is helpful in situations where a student may not have anybody available to check on them, or if there is somebody possibly following them to their destination. 

As police officers respond to these requests, they take precautions to follow new health and safety guidelines.

“For us, the only thing that has really changed is to maintain social distancing of that six feet apart, and to wear a mask,” Berthon-Koch said. “All of the officers are issued masks and respirators, gloves and antibacterial lotions and whatnot. The response and everything else is pretty much the same.”

A service available for students who may not have a smartphone are the blue light telephones placed throughout campus. 

According to the CWU website, these blue light phones reach out to KITTCOM, the designated 911 dispatch. Once the student reaches out, the CWU police, fire services or medical services may be dispatched accordingly.

According to Berthon-Koch, a potential upcoming precaution taken by CWU will be installing cameras around campus to ensure student safety. At this time, there is no certain date set in place for when these will be installed or available.

CWU police have advice for students walking alone at night, as well as walking alone at any point of time. The biggest tip: always be aware of your surroundings.

“You should always be aware of your surroundings. You should always know where you’re going, what your direction is and walk with a purpose,” Berthon-Koch said. “As people are coming to you, make sure you acknowledge them and look at them so that they understand that you both see each other and recognize what’s happening.”

Distractions while walking can include focusing on social media and having noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds in. These distractions can make a person vulnerable and increase their risk of getting attacked.

“If somebody can just be heads-up, be aware of their surroundings [and] be aware of what’s going on, they can employ risk-reduction strategies and risk avoidance and avoid possibly being a victim of a crime,” Berthon-Koch said. “Just simply by being aware of your surroundings.”

As anybody walks, there is a possibility of feeling like something is wrong. Commonly known as a gut feeling, Twaites says students should follow their gut feelings.

“If you see something that looks suspicious, trust your instincts and call either 911 if you think it’s up to that degree, or call our non-dispatch number KITTCOM,” Twaites said. “And if someone doesn’t feel safe or they think something’s strange, by all means let us know. We’re here to partner with all of our community to make sure we’re all safe.”

If you are in immediate danger or witness a serious crime, call 911. For other services, call campus police at 509-963-2959 or call 509-925-8534 during after hours and weekends.