Expansion and greater awareness of the service have resulted in record-breaking numbers for the UMB Police Force escort service. In November and December of 2014, more than 4,300 faculty, staff, and students of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and employees at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) utilized the van and walking escorts.
The walking police escort service is available on campus 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Times of the van service were expanded in fall 2014 as were its boundaries, which extend three blocks beyond the campus borders on all sides.
A vigorous communications campaign, two Safety Matters town halls, and reminder cards handed out by police and University leaders also promoted the police escort program, especially after two robberies on campus the night of Oct. 6
“I attribute the substantial increase in escorts to the increased awareness our community has about safety,” says Antonio Williams, MS, chief of the UMB Police Force and associate vice president for public safety. “We also have made the escort program more available and are offering better service by our department while providing the escorts.”
The growth has been amazing. In September 2014, there were 756 requests for police escorts. The number of those using the police escort service skyrocketed to 2,494 in November and to 1,869 in December, even with the campus closed the last week for holiday break.
Van service has been expanded to include all of Ridgely’s Delight and now stretches to Schroeder Street on the west, Franklin Street on the north, Park Avenue on the east, and Washington Boulevard on the south (see map). Police van escort hours have been extended to 3 p.m. through 1 a.m., with two seven-passenger vans operating during peak hours, between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. And additional personnel have been dedicated to coordinating van escorts, ensuring better customer service.
Despite the increased demand, the police van or walking escorts usually arrive promptly. “Maybe 30 minutes on a bad day,” says Meghan Kemp, a law student who uses the service less now that she has a closer parking spot. She remains a big supporter of the police escort service. “I recommend it, it’s just safer at night. Better safe than sorry. You can’t be too safe.”
Spikes for the service occur between 7 and 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. and midnight, statistics show. Williams is encouraged that more people are using the escorts. “I appreciate the many compliments we have received expressing the improved service,” he says. “Adding the second escort van has been well-received. This is the most ridership we have ever had.”
Yet he won’t say the police escort program has reached its capacity, even with nearly 2,500 escorts in November. “I would like anyone who feels he/she needs the service to be able to use the service,” he says. “Whatever number that is, whenever you are afraid or don’t feel safe, our duty is to ease those fears.”
To arrange a police van escort or walking escort, simply call 6-6882 on a campus telephone or 410-706-6882 and a uniformed officer will be sent to your location. Riders are required to have either a UMB or UMMC ID.