UNH PD gives talk on campus safety
In the last 17 years, Lt. Steven P. Lee has encountered everything from student riots to meth labs, but his most frequent work has been at the University of New Hampshire, his alma mater, where he has come and gone throughout his career in law enforcement.
As the current divisions commander for the UNH Police Department, Lee spoke to students in the Granite State Room Monday night about campus safety. The event was hosted by Alpha Delta Phi (ADP) society, UNH's only coed literary society.
"I think it's beneficial for all students to learn their rights and responsibilities," said ADP member Sean Moreau, who organized the event.
Lee discussed issues regarding alcohol and safety, as well as provided an interactive forum in which students asked him questions pertaining to the law. Many of the audience's questions centered around topics pertaining to underage drinking.
"What exactly is the UNH amnesty program?" one audience member asked. Lee explained that if a student is intoxicated and feels that he or she or someone with them is in distress due to overconsumption of alcohol, if they seek help, they may receive medical amnesty and not face disciplinary action from the UNH Office of Conduct and Mediation.
When students asked Lee about internal possession laws, he said that his top priority isn't arresting people, but keeping people safe.
"I get fired up when an officer gives a minor on foot a field sobriety test," he said. "Intoxication should be obvious."
Lee also gave safety recommendations to students who asked what precautions they could take while walking through campus alone at night. In addition to UNH Safe Rides, students can also call for a police escort to bring them home if they feel vulnerable.
Lee vouched for the blue emergency lights on campus, and said he has seen how they are effective firsthand.
"They work very well, and they get tested every weekend," he said.
When one of the emergency buttons is pressed, all of the lights go off and the intercom systems are automatically turned on, so even if the button isn't being held down, the dispatcher can still hear what is going on.
Lee said that there are currently talks of having another campus walk-through in the spring to determine more areas where the blue emergency lights can be installed on campus.
"I didn't even know those lights worked," said Courtney Wolf, a senior in attendance. "People think that cops are just out to get them in trouble, but they care about safety. A lot of what I learned tonight makes me feel more secure."
Lee said that in the years he has worked at UNH, the most out-of-control situation he has had to deal with were the student riots in 2007 after the Red Sox won the World Series. Even though he has witnessed the mob-mentality come and go, he said there are trade-offs.
"With that, you find less of people looking out for each other," he said. "People don't want someone else getting them in trouble."
Lee encouraged students to ask police officers questions and to not feel uncomfortable doing so, regardless of the issue. With all of the misinformation, he said that police-talks are essential to a safer campus environment.
Students who attended the campus safety talk Monday night received valuable information as Lee explained how to have fun without getting in trouble.
"Don't draw attention to yourself," Lee said. "Just maintain and look out for one another; that's the biggest thing."
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