Bridging the gap between Lexington police and school administrators

October 30, 2014

The Washington and Lee student relationship between the Lexington Police Department and Public Safety has greatly improved in the last few years, according to Lexington Police Chief Al Thomas.

Thomas attributes this positive change to bridging the gap between the Lexington Police Department and the dean’s office.

“W&L students are adept at asking the dean’s office when they want extended party hours and certain permits. In return, the dean’s office asks us for our permission on behalf of the students,” Thomas said.

As of now, the Lexington Police Department has not made any arrests or given out any summonses to W&L students this year, according to Thomas.

“Last year was the one of the best years with regard to few arrests,” said Thomas. “So far, the pace for this year is showing the same trend as the former; I hope it remains this way.”

Director of Public Safety Ethan Kipnes believes the guiding principles of public safety are geared towards partnering with both residential areas around campus as well as on the campus itself.

“We try to provide the best security possible for the students on and off campus,” Kipnes said. “I believe we have an excellent relationship with the students, as does the Lexington Police Department.”

Thomas said the relationship between the students and the Lexington Police Department has improved over the past five years.

According to Thomas, the Lexington community is very tolerant of W&L parties and there aren’t usually many complaints until students cross the line.

When asked about the relationship between students and the Lexington Police Department, Caroline Sanders, ‘16 said, “they do an adept job keeping our campus safe.”

“Thankfully, I’ve never had any personal negative experiences with Lexington Police,” Sanders said. “But I believe the relationship between them and the students has improved over the three years I’ve been here.”

The public safety office has altered its approach to their relationship with the students. Fraternities can now hire a public safety official to provide extra security for an event. Depending of the fraternity’s choice, these public safety officials can either be undercover or wearing a uniform.

Fraternities are also now making a habit of having, what Thomas calls a “sober host” at parties. This entails one student remaining sober throughout the duration of the party so if anything happens, he can talk in a competent manner to the police or safety officials.

“It makes me feel more safe when I go out,” Diem Tran, ‘17, said. “They know we’re drinking, but at the same time, all they want is for us to stay safe and make correct decisions.”

According to Kipnes, there have been very few incidents with students and public safety so far this year.

“We know students are going to drink and party because it is all part of the college experience,” Kipnes said. “However, we hope that these students will make the right decisions and become mature adults by doing so.”

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