‘XUPD Uber’ headed out of business

Officers will now conduct a majority of escorts on foot instead of in vehicles

Photo courtesy of MapQuest | The majority of police escorts will be carried out on foot instead of vehicles. According to Xavier University Police Department Chief Daniel Hect, the new policy will allow officers to engage with the community more.

Xavier University’s Police Department (XUPD) will now conduct the majority of its escorts on foot rather than in vehicles as it moves toward a community policing program. To ensure that officers have the time to engage with the community, more officers will patrol on foot and be present at programs such as Adopt-A-Hall and Rape Aggression Defense training.

XUPD spends a large amount of time escorting students, even though it is a relatively low priority of the department. Throughout the past four months, XUPD spent more than 110 hours escorting students by vehicle, constituting around 40 percent of all dispatched runs.

After tallying the amount of time spent escorting and listening to officers’ accounts of transporting students to work, the grocery store and even to the Starbucks at University Station, XUPD Chief Daniel Hect said it became apparent that “these calls were for convenience and not for safety concerns.” Hect also attended a Student Government Association (SGA) meeting and learned that students refer to the vehicular escorts as “XUPD Uber.” He said he would rather officers spend their shifts actively engaging campus by patrolling on foot rather than driving students around.

Hect emphasized that XUPD is more than willing to transport students to ensure their safety. For instance, a student on crutches who needed to get back to their residence would be an example of medical well-being covered under the umbrella of student safety.

The shift to on-foot escorts has raised a few concerns amongst students. Sophomore Tyeshia Smith shared that she declined an on-foot escort from her job at Gallagher Student Center’s Subway to her residence in Village Apartments. She requested an escort because of the cold, which aggravates her knees, and because it was dark. Smith declined the escort because she didn’t want to put the officer out of their way.

“I didn’t want the escort walking in the cold,” Smith said. “I felt that the trip would be longer for him to walk to me, then walk me to my apartment, then walk back to the station. I didn’t want to be out in the cold, so I expected he didn’t want to either.”

For cases like Smith’s, vehicular escorts may not be entirely abandoned.

“It’s not a hard and fast rule (not to use vehicular escorts)… but we’re not Uber,” Hect said.

Hect showed interest in hiring students to respond to vehicle escort calls, perhaps even using XUPD golf carts that are slow and cannot fit many people and so would not be as easily used for convenience. Ultimately, he wants to put the convenience escorts “back in the hands of the students.

“SGA used to maintain a student-operated, on-campus shuttle service that was discontinued because of a lack of ridership,” according to SGA Executive Johnny Srsich. He does not anticipate reinstituting the service because of the cost and the small size of campus. SGA does maintain shuttles to the Norwood Kroger and the Kenwood Mall each weekend, as well as a shuttle to CVG Airport for major breaks.

By: Heather Gast ~Staff Writer~