Students often consider the Department of Public Safety to be
the enemy. But its job entails much more than busting underage
drinkers. Friday, Sept. 24, Daily Staff Reporter Ashley Dinges
spent the morning riding with Officer David Hawkins. Later that
evening, Daily Staff Reporter Melissa Benton rode along with
Officer Garry Veld. The Daily found out what it’s like to be
a police officer at the University.
Morning Shift 9AM-noon
9:13 a.m. – Left DPS, drove around the Baker
district. Campus is divided into three areas covered by DPS —
Adam, Baker and Charles districts. Adam encompasses all of the
athletic campus, Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena and dorms like
West Quad and South Quad residence halls. The Baker district
includes the rest of Central Campus and the Diag and the Charles
district is all of North Campus.
9:24 a.m. – Stopped at the Corner House building by
the Modern Languages Building to check for homeless people that had
been in the building the night before. There were no problems at
the time. “It really goes in spurts. We haven’t had
much of a problem this year,” Hawkins said.
9:31 a.m. – Left Thayer Street and drove by the
Church Street carport, which Hawkins said is the worst spot for
crime on campus. “By far, the biggest problem on campus is
the Church carport,” Hawkins said. He added DPS officers
sometimes enter the structure on bicycles to look for people using
drugs or drinking underage, and that there is “more crime
than anywhere else.”
9:36 a.m. – Arrived at the new DPS Palmer Commons
office. While there, we spoke to Paula Williams, a public safety
officer and 2001 LSA graduate who worked at DPS when she was a
student. Though the student program was cut due to funding issues,
several current DPS officers also worked in the program.
10:19 a.m. – Arrived at DPS main office on Kipke
Drive, where I spoke to Police Captain Charles Noffsinger about
background information on the department.
10:28 a.m. – Left DPS, drove around Adam and Baker
10:33 a.m. – Arrived at DPS Wolverine Tower office.
I met Kurt Kohtz, a DPS police officer who has been working at DPS
since it began in the early ’90s and said he has witnessed
the change in student attitudes toward DPS. “Once they tried
to initiate the department, there was a lot of animosity,”
Kohtz said. Now, he said, perceptions have changed.
“We’ve been established. We’re their
11:09 a.m. – Left Wolverine Tower, cruised around
11:17 a.m. – Received call for an abandoned vehicle
near Alice Lloyd Residence Hall on Observatory Street. The driver
of a freight truck had some problems with smoke exhaust coming out
of the vehicle’s tailpipe and could not find the building he
needed to make a delivery to, but Hawkins provided assistance.
11:43 a.m. – Taxi driver blocking traffic on East
University Avenue while cruising the Baker district. Hawkins asked
him to move.
11:53 a.m. – Stopped at Michigan Stadium to assist
officers monitoring set-up before the football game.
11:56 a.m – Returned to base at Kipke Drive.
Officer Hawkins received a call to check a fire alarm at the
Central Campus Recreation Building as I left.
Afternoon Shift 9PM-midnight
9:03 p.m. – Left DPS office and headed towards
9:15 p.m. – Drove by Pierpont Commons and around
9:33 p.m. – Drove around Arbor Lakes, a
three-building complex that houses the telecommunications
9:36 p.m. – Drove around the University Health
9:43 p.m. – Veld received a call that there was a
garage door that would not close at the Art and Architecture
9:54 p.m. – Arrived at the Art and Architecture
Building. Veld checked inside the building, and then he checked to
see if the door could close. He confirmed that both the electric
switch and the chain to the door were broken.
10:00 p.m. – Veld called maintenance to come secure
10:04 p.m. – Drove around the University
10:10 p.m. – Veld got a call to Baxter Pumps, one
of the two locations where University vehicles can refuel.
10:17 p.m. – Arrived at Baxter Pumps, and witnesses
claimed they saw a man stealing gasoline. “Over at the
maintenance building they keep gas stored there for mowers. They
think (the suspect) took some and poured it into other cans that
(the suspect) may have brought from home,” Veld said.
10:37 p.m. – Arrived at maintenance building to
investigate the incident.
10:45 p.m. – Veld asked suspect for permission to
search vehicle. Veld’s search proved that the suspect did not
steal any gasoline.
11:01 p.m. – Headed to Central Campus.
11:15 p.m. – Veld decided to do a check on the
Church Street carport.
11:17 p.m. – Veld noticed two people making out in
a vehicle, but decided to leave them alone because they
weren’t doing anything “criminal.”
11:20 p.m. – Veld got out of the vehicle to check
on two minors sitting on top of the parking structure.
11:25 p.m. – Left the parking structure.
11:31 p.m. – Veld pulled a vehicle over that was
going 50 mph in a 35 mph zone on Fuller Road.
11:37 p.m. – Veld issued a verbal warning for
11:50 p.m. – Returned to DPS, and Veld spent 15 to
20 minutes updating reports.
DPS: Breaking it down
For University students, the Department of Safety is an
ever-present force on campus, and University life without it would
The department, formed in the early ’90s, includes three
different types of officers who staff each office on campus —
police officers, public safety officers and housing security
officers. The main office is located near Crisler Arena, while
other offices on campus are located at Pierpont Commons, Wolverine
Tower and Palmer Commons.
All University buildings, residence halls and streets are within
DPS jurisdiction. In addition to responding to calls from students
and other University affiliates, DPS also sponsors crime-prevention
programs within the community.
DPS police officer David Hawkins and public safety officer Paula
Williams agreed that DPS tries to take a community-awareness
approach to its crime prevention.
Williams said preventative measures such as the Eyes and Ears
program work to build a relationship with employees who are
familiar with their buildings and who notice anything out of the
ordinary in their specific area.
“When somebody is there that generally isn’t in
there, they know it. You know when something strikes you as odd,
and you call us,” Williams said.
Hawkins, who previously served in the military and worked as a
private detective before joining DPS, said the best aspect of
working in a university is the community.
“One of the big things is the people. I really enjoy
working with the community,” Hawkins said.
He added that another perk to working at a university is the
“type of clientele, the type of call you’re responding
“That’s all we’re looking for — the
respect we give (to students) — we expect that back,”
Spotlight: Officer Veld
Department of Public Safety officer Garry Veld has been with the
University for the past four years, dedicated to keeping the campus
“The University is a great place to work. I was a security
guard for 10 months, and then they put me through the Police
Academy. But, I’ve been a police officer for 24 years.
I’m a retired Army officer. It couldn’t have worked out
any better. I love it here,” Veld said.
Veld works the afternoon shift, which normally runs from 4 p.m.
to 2 a.m. Because he is one of the four officers in the motorcycle
unit, however, Veld works from 2 p.m. to midnight.
“I love this shift. … I guess that you get a little
bit of everything. On the day shift it’s a lot of stuff
that’s already happened. At this time of day the calls are
stuff that’s in progress. I guess that’s why I like
this shift,” Veld said.
Veld is assigned to the Medical and North Campus areas. Although
this means he has a lot of ground to cover, it is
“calmer” than Central Campus.
Although few problems are reported in the area, traffic
violations are a major complaint, Veld said. Many people speed
through the streets of North Campus, and there are also problems
with vehicles passing stopped buses.
“We get a lot of calls about people running the stop sign
on East Medical Center Drive. It’s really important because
there’s a crosswalk right there,” Veld added.
Veld often stops in at the hospital during his shift because it
is such a large part of the University.
“We get just as many calls from the hospital as any place
else. So many people work there,” he said.
Veld said the hospital is especially hectic on the weekend.
“Usually on a Friday night or a Saturday night around
midnight the hospital’s pretty busy with intoxicated
Although he is assigned to the Medical and North Campuses, Veld
also assists the officers on Central Campus when necessary.
“I don’t spend much time down (on Central Campus)
because then I would be neglecting my own area,” he said.
Central Campus, he added, can get very busy. If another officer
is tied up elsewhere, Veld does not hesitate to venture into the
crowds of drunken students.