It has been nearly a year since the majority of students and employees of The University of New Mexico have transitioned to remote learning and work due to COVID-19.
However, some units — like Facilities Management and Residence Life — have returned to campus to provide essential service as UNM engages in a hybrid learning model. One unit that never left the campus is the UNM Police Department (UNMPD).
Safety has been a priority for UNMPD interim chief, Joseph Silva. “All departments on campus had to make adjustments, and we’re no exception. Not only do we have to keep campus safe, but we have to do so while also looking out for the safety of our officers and their families.”
In addition to changes in personal safety protocols, UNMPD had to adjust how they police a relatively empty campus. However, fewer people do not mean fewer calls for service. In fact, there has been an increase in calls to report issues such as COVID-Safe Practices violations, vandalism, theft, and other misuses of campus property and grounds. To address this, UNMPD has increased its officer patrols.
“Visibility is key, so increased patrols will help prevent these incidents,” said Silva. “But our community policing model depends on-campus users also taking a proactive role in protecting the campus. We need those who are here to be extra vigilant in notifying us of any suspicious activity.”
Another key is the speed in which campus users report incidents. “If you see something, say something,” added Silva. “But it’s important that people contact us immediately and not wait until they get home or to class. The faster we can respond, the greater the likelihood that we can stop issues from escalating.”
Tools available to the campus community to contact law enforcement include calling 911 for emergencies, calling UNMPD dispatch at 277-2241 for non-emergencies (monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week), submitting an anonymous online tip, utilizing the Lobo Rave Guardian app and the recently upgraded Code Blue phones spread throughout main, north, and south campuses.
While UNMPD is always here to serve, not all issues require a law enforcement response. If campus users encounter maintenance problems, such as overflowing trash, graffiti, broken windows, damaged campus furniture, or other equipment or building problems, they can report this directly to Facilities Management Work Control by calling (505) 277-1600 during normal business hours, or, after hours, they can contact UNMPD dispatch who will notify the on-call maintenance staff.
While final plans to resume full campus operations are still pending, UNMPD will be ready for what the future brings.
“COVID-19 has shown our ability to remain flexible and adapt to ever-changing conditions and we are fully prepared to transition back to traditional operations once it is safe to do so,” said Silva.