Racer Patrol ‘eyes and ears’ – Officers assist Murray State Police with several responsibilities

Jenny Rohl/The News Chris Gaylord, senior from Festus, Mo., escorts Chasity Bowyer, freshman from Louisville, Ky., through campus Wednesday night.
Jenny Rohl/The News Chris Gaylord, senior from Festus, Mo., escorts Chasity Bowyer, freshman from Louisville, Ky., through campus Wednesday night.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Chris Gaylord, senior from Festus, Mo., escorts Chasity Bowyer, freshman from Louisville, Ky., through campus Wednesday night.

This semester, the Racer Patrol has received 44 requests for escorts.

Nearly 25 percent of these requests were made last week alone, the most in a single week this semester.

The Racer Patrol has been escorting students since 1973. David Devoss, chief of the Murray State Police, said originally Racer Patrol’s purpose was limited to escorting women who did not feel safe at night, but their responsibilities have been greatly expanded since then.

Racer Patrol officers are responsible for not only escorting students around campus, but also for doing building checks, working security detail at special events and conducting surveillance of the campus, particularly the far removed Roy Stewart Stadium parking lot.

“They really are our eyes and ears,” Devoss said “Although their responsibility isn’t law enforcement, their presence is a major deterrent for those who may be thinking of committing a crime on campus.”

He said Racer Patrol as well as the Murray State Police will patrol later and be more visible on campus in the coming weeks especially around the time of finals due to Waterfield Library extending its hours to accommodate students and also in part due to trends in crime he has observed at the beginning and end of the University’s semesters.

“We do have little spikes (of crime) at the beginning and end of semesters,” Devoss said. “We’re approaching a time right now where at stress is maybe a little high and a few more incidents of that nature are reported and when certain types of theft occur.”

Angelica Aconfora, sophomore from Southbury, Conn., said it is comforting knowing Racer Patrol is available when she needs them, and although she has never called them for an escort, she does have their number in her phone.

She said one of the things she first noticed when she came to Murray State was the lack of emergency call boxes positioned on campus.

She said the lack of call boxes scared her, but that Racer Patrol makes up for this.

Brea Shumake, sophomore from Louisville, Ky., said she’s never felt the need to call Racer Patrol because she feels the campus is safe and that it’s not dangerous, even at night.

Devoss said this sense of security students have while on campus is a sign that Racer Patrol is accomplishing its goals.

Racer Patrol is made up of 16 students, usually half of which plan on becoming police offers, Devoss said, but their majors and interests usually run the gamut.

He said being in Racer Patrol is not the most rewarding job on campus when you compare the six to eight miles Racer Patrol members must walk each night, sometimes in snow and ice, to a job working at a desk answering phones.

“The University is extremely fortunate to have this group,” Devoss said. “You can’t measure the importance of the Racer Patrol simply by looking at the number of escorts they give. One can’t calculate the value of having these young men and women.”

 

Story by Ben Manhanke, Assistant News Editor