Story by Alicia Steele, Assistant News Editor
James Herring was named Public Safety and Emergency Management’s new chief of police over the summer and spent the last month adjusting to Murray and planning for the year to come.
“We just moved in our house on Tuesday,” Herring said. “I feel like I’m here now.”
Herring said he’s been able to learn campus by taking his dog for walks, and he’s been speaking to different groups on campus and introducing himself to different faculty and staff.
“Just trying to do that to get my face out there and get to know who people are,” Herring said.
Herring said his current goals are to work on promoting the LiveSafe app, developing a better way to send out emergency communications and developing relationships between the campus community and Public Safety.
“I want everybody on campus to have LiveSafe downloaded,” Herring said. “One of the things I want to do when I go to some of these departmental meetings is to push LiveSafe.”
Herring said LiveSafe is an easy way for students and faculty to communicate with public safety.
“Especially for students because it’s more of a text-based kind of thing that students like because you can send pictures and video and that kind of thing,” Herring said. “And for us it’s better because instead of giving us a description of a person or a car you can just take a picture and send it to us and then we know what the person looks like.”
Herring said LiveSafe also offers a feature called SafeWalk that allows students to send their location to a friend who can then watch them walk from one point to another to make sure they make it safely.
“Students are using that,” Herring said. “We don’t see them walking, but we see the statistics of how many people are using it.”
He said during the first week of the semester LiveSafe attracted 400 new users (for a total of 2,492), 102 SafeWalks were sent and eight tips were reported to Public Safety.
“My goal is to have everybody who is affiliated with the university to have it,” Herring said.
Herring said parents can also download the app and see their student’s location on or off campus.
“So when you go home you can send your parents a message, and they can actually watch you drive up the highway,” Herring said. “It’s not just limited to here.”
Herring said he wants to come up with a program similar to Pokémon GO that would offer prizes to users to promote the app.
He said he would also like to see an improvement in Public Safety’s emergency notification system.
“The software we have right now is kind of limited so I’m looking at some alternatives for that,” Herring said.
He said the department is also working on a program to promote relationships between Public Safety and students.
“It’s about relationship building and changing perspectives,” Herring said.
He said they’re still in the planning stages right now but will eventually have students involved in the developing process.
He said he would also like to see a student advisory group on campus that would include representatives from different organizations to give Public Safety feedback on different policies on campus.
“Students know what students want,” Herring said. “And students know how we can communicate with them better so you have to have that input.”
Herring said relationship building is a constant thing for Public Safety.
“That carries forward,” Herring said. “So you have to look at that as a whole, that we have these relationships as a police department.”