Residential Safety Program available as ever after campus robberies

(JAIME ABBARIAO / THE STATESMAN)

Residential Safety Program monitors are stationed in each residential building in order to check students into their buildings at night. (JAIME ABBARIAO / THE STATESMAN)

On Sept. 13, Chief of Police Robert J. Lenahan sent a campus update to the Stony Brook University community regarding the robbery that took place on the evening of Sept. 1 and the attempted robbery that took place two days later.

After a comprehensive investigation by University Police Detectives, two individuals with no university affiliation were arrested and charged with robbery in the 2nd degree and criminal possession of stolen property in the 5th degree. Additionally, a third individual with no university affiliation was arrested and charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the 5th degree. Two of the individuals reside in East Setauket; the third resides in Setauket. All three individuals are 16 years of age.

This matter will now be pursued in the Suffolk County Criminal Courts.

In the first incident, a student was approached by two to three males who threatened the victim and took his phone and U.S. currency. In the second related incident, three students were approached by two males who displayed an Airsoft pistol and demanded money.

Although no one was injured during the occurrences, careful students and worried parents were searching for a sense of security as some students must walk through campus at night. The Residential Safety Program provides students a free Walk Service from 12 p.m. to 3 a.m. every day if they call (631)-632-WALK (9255).

When a student calls the headquarters using the number above, a dispatcher informs a unit of two to three RSP workers of that student’s location and destination. The unit then finds that student and escorts them.

When asked if there was an increase of calls for the walk service after the campus robberies, Emmanuel Gyamfi, program coordinator for the Residential Safety Program, answered, “Yes, there were more calls as far as the walk service is concerned.” There are also more calls on days of the week when campus-based social events occur.

“Feel free to call,” Gyamfi said. “Don’t be intimidated because it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a female when you think about safety first.”

Last year the service had over 600 walks, and as more students learn about RSP—what they do and why—the service is prepared to take more calls. According to their website, their staff consists of over 300 SBU students. RSP is responsible for field units that are always on patrol as well as the desk monitors that check students into their residential buildings at night. RSP is also able to call in walks to the walk service.

“This campus is very unique in that we have a police department on campus,” Gyamfi said. “Every Thursday night UPD and RSP meet, patrol and discuss areas of interests.”

RSP has a good working relationship with UPD. When discussing SB Alert and the community emails from UPD, Gyamfi said, “It’s very nice to know that when something happens on campus everyone is informed about it.”

John Aguilar, a junior double majoring in Women’s Studies and Sociology who is also an RSP supervisor, stressed “RSP is about security and safety- not snitching.”

“Anyone can call,” he expressed openly. “We are students working for your own safety, we would never say no to anybody, we’re not here to judge anybody.”

After working at RSP for a year, Aguilar noticed that the walk service demand has increased pursuant to the robberies, and he feels that as time goes on, this demand will probably return to normal. The service is always present and working toward making students feel more comfortable, not only after a threat is perceived.

“RSP is one of the best services on campus, and everybody should be utilizing it. We are not here to get students in trouble; we are here to help them and ensure their safety,” said Jenna Mazzella, a double major in philosophy and political science who is also an assistant coordinator at RSP.

Mazzella started working for RSP during her sophomore year and has moved up in the RSP ranks since. She has risen to a managerial position within the program, and she is very happy with her experience.

“It’s a huge workforce, and I stuck with it,” she continued, “It’s the best job I’ve ever had. I work with great people serving the campus community.”

Gyamfi sums up the program perfectly in his own words: “We are not cops. We are not security guards. We are a safety program here to make you feel comfortable.”

September 25, 2013: A previous version of this article said that John Aguilar is a sophomore. He is a junior.

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