Community Connect
Office of the Vice President for Community Services

UTSA Business Affairs

Engaging the Roadrunner Community in Public Safety

By Lorenzo D. Sanchez and Melissa May

UTSA students learn about how to reduce impaired driving from a UTSA PD officer. Photo courtesy of Melissa May.

UTSA students learn about how to reduce impaired driving from a UTSA PD officer. Photo courtesy of Melissa May.

The UTSA Police Department is committed to actively engaging the university community in all aspects of public safety and emergency preparedness. Bridging students, faculty, and staff through collaborative efforts in public safety is a top department priority. UTSA-PD identifies new opportunities to get the Roadrunner community engaged in public safety initiatives on and off campus.

Students from the College of Public Policy participate in regional emergency-response training exercises with the UTSA-PD Office of Emergency Management. COPP students Marcos Mendoza and M. Cristina Norris participated in the Public-Private Partnership Counterterrorism workshop at the Texas Emergency Management Conference, which provided a great networking opportunity with local law enforcement agencies. "Engaging students in community exercises and workshops helps foster a culture of community disaster resiliency across the San Antonio region," explained Lorenzo D. Sanchez, UTSA director of emergency management.

UTSA-PD Community Affairs Section (CAS) is busy building partnerships with student organizations through active engagement in awareness and crime prevention programs. CAS collaborates with departments across the University, as well as external agencies, to host National Night Out (against crime) at UTSA, which draws in thousands of students, faculty, and staff members to improve campus safety. CAS's Corporal Maranda Tupper lead numerous programs aimed at reducing impaired driving, encouraging access to mental health services, and training people on self-defense.

CAS continually engages students, urging them to take an active role in their own lives through healthy behaviors, as well as helping others, and participating in the community. CAS also conducts several sexual violence prevention campaigns, including Take Back the Night and Call to Action. In fact, UTSA received the Excellence in Campus Advocacy & Action Award 2016-2017 from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.

Official UTSA Police Department logo.

Official UTSA Police Department logo.

This year, CAS intern and criminal justice major Randy Bermea delivered presentations to student athletes aimed at reducing relationship violence. Working with Stefanie M. Cisneros, assistant athletic director, Bermea was trained by the One Love Foundation to facilitate workshops. Bermea wants people to understand the signs of unhealthy relationships and to get involved. Now entering graduate school, Bermea will volunteer for the One Love Foundation in San Antonio between classes and studying. (Read more about Bermea's efforts).

Along with its emergency prepared-ness and crime prevention initiatives, the UTSA-PD Patrol Division seeks to join forces with the UTSA community, as well as neighborhoods and off-campus apartment complexes. "Establishing partnerships with our campus stakeholders is key to shaping a culture in which everyone feels safe to learn, live, and work," said Chief of Police Gerald Lewis. To help advance this, the UTSA Police Department plans to have students work alongside public safety officers to patrol and assist the campus community.

As is evident, the UTSA-PD is comprehensive in their services and engagement. They continually seek new opportunities to sustain and grow their partnerships by engaging everyone in campus safety.