As the weather becomes warmer and student activity increases on campus, university safety becomes even more important. To acknowledge those who work to maintain safe Stags, Fairfield University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS), a DPS Appreciation Week is taking place from April 8 to April 11. 

Fairfield University Student Association’s (FUSA) Health & Wellness Committee has collaborated with DPS to coordinate a series of events demonstrating and celebrating the efforts of Fairfield’s public safety team. An appreciation week for DPS has never taken place before, and Sergeant Mike Santos conveyed his gratitude for the recognition.

“We’re very happy about it,” he said on behalf of the department. “It’s nice to know that people realize we are a part of the community,” and even the education process, he added. 

DPS is composed of 29 full-time highly-trained first responders, stated by the university’s website. The public safety department conducts foot, vehicle and bicycle patrols and provides state certified Emergency Medical Technicians, a Sexual Misconduct and Assault Response Team and a 24 hour escort service. 

Five events took place throughout the week, starting with a DPS Open House on Monday, April 8 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Guests were invited to visit the DPS office in Loyola Hall and talk with officers, not without free pizza and a raffle in addition to discussion. 

On Tuesday, April 9, a DPS Virtual Training took place from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Barone Campus Center (BCC) room 200. For an hour and a half, students had the opportunity to partake in DPS’s Virtual Reality Training System and were offered safety materials such as whistles and pens. 

Santos reported the event as “very well attended.” He continued, “I think students got a new understanding of our responsibilities on campus.”

Santos has worked as a DPS officer for 35 years. He described that the department has evolved in terms of incidents and investigations. Crime has expanded past mere acts of vandalism and intoxication and faulty fire alarms. Investigations have also grown to be taken more seriously, and occur much more frequently. 

“The mission here is to keep everybody who steps on this campus safe … outsiders and insiders,” he said.

On Wednesday, April 10, “Learn Your Limit” takes place. From 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., an educational demonstration about the severity of car crashes will occur at the Tully Orchard and Traffic Circle. Community members are invited to attend as the importance of seatbelts and the consequences of intoxicated driving are reinforced. 

Staying with the topic of safe alcohol consumption, a “Thirsty Thursday” will be held April 11 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the lower level of the BCC. Students are welcome to stop by for some mocktails – nonalcoholic drinks – with DPS and FUSA’s Alcohol & Drug Awareness Representative.

To initiate some camaraderie and finish off the week, a cornhole tournament challenges students to take on DPS in the classic American pastime. Through Life@Fairfield, students can sign up for the tournament with their team members. The game takes place on April 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; if a student team can claim victory over the security professionals, they are entered into a raffle for a variety of prizes, ranging from a Stanley cup, a Spikeball net and Beats headphones. 

The vision statement for DPS declares: “Our vision is built on integrity and service: to ensure that our students, faculty and staff continue to learn and work in a safe environment that grows from Honor, Dedication and Commitment.”

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