The West Virginia University Department of Public Safety (DPS) is encouraging students to have fun, but be safe as the new school year begins Monday (Aug. 18).

Our goal is to provide a safe and secure environment for all members of our university community,said Lt. Randy Friend, WVU DPS crime prevention officer.We are here to serve and protect, and we are asking students for their assistance.

Friend says students should lock their doors and secure their property.

We ask students not to take chances with their safety,Friend said.We want them to report crime if they see, hear or suspect it. We want them to respect the laws and the rights of others.

Thirty-seven blue tower emergency phones are located around campus that ring directly into the 911 communications center when activated. The phones give the caller a voice link to the 911 dispatch center and sets off a blue flashing light on the tower when the phone is activated. Response time to activated phones is generally a matter of minutes, Friend said.

We can be contacted via the 911 emergency communications center by dialing 911 on any off-campus phone, and by dialing 9-911 on any campus phone. We can also be contacted at our own 24-hour communications center by dialing 293-COPS,he noted.

WVU DPS employs 47 full-time police officers with full arrest powers, providing 24-hour police service on all campus property. All University police officers must have a two-year degree or West Virginia Law Enforcement Officer Certification. All new officers attend 16 weeks of basic training at the West Virginia State Police Academy. All officers also receive on-going training and re-certification in basic first-aid, CPR , defensive tactics, defensive and pursuit driving, firearms qualifications and many other law enforcement-related courses.

We constantly strive to ensure that our officers are the best, most qualified and most professional officers we can provide,Friend said.

The department has a crime prevention unit, training division, community-oriented police unit, investigative division, K-9 unit, five marked cruisers, two unmarked vehicles and three bicycle patrol units.

WVU DPS welcomes all students to campus and we stand ready to help them any way we can,Friend added.