University Police Services ranked sixth nationally for campus safety initiatives

‘Girls on Guard’ and ‘Fitness Tailgate’ programs singled out as exemplary efforts

University Police Services honored for forward-thinking efforts in campus safety.

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11/15/2018 | By: Nicole Shearer |

Safe Campus, host of the National Campus Safety Summit, recently ranked University of Nevada, Reno Police Services sixth in the nation out of 4,706 eligible, accredited institutions of higher education, for accomplishments in improving campus safety.

As part of the recognition, University Police Services received accolades for its popular “Girls on Guard” self-defense class, which is offered at the E.L. Weigand Fitness Center. Since the fitness center opened in 2017, University Police Services has run 48 drop-in classes with an average attendance of six to 10 students in each class. These classes are in addition to the PEX 199 women’s self-defense class, which have been run by University Police Services as a one-credit course every semester since 2008. That class averages between 25 and 30 students each semester.

Also recognized were the “Fitness Tailgates,” which offer a safe, substance-free alternative to high-risk drinking games before major athletic events. These tailgates are a partnership between University Police Services, Student Services and The Associated Students of the University of Nevada.

“Having police officers who teach classes at the fitness center has provided an informal, approachable and informative opportunity for students and police to interact in positive ways,” University Police Services Commander Eric James said. “Combined with Fitness Tailgates, which saw more than 800 students come through this year, University Police Services is trying to connect with our community in impactful ways.”

University Police Services Commander Eric James high-fiving a student.

University Police Services Commander Eric James teaching the "Girls on Guard" self-defense class at the E.L. Wiegand Fitness Center.

According to James, the hope is that, over time, students see police less as an intimidating department and more as the people and presence on campus for their safety.

 “The entire department works tirelessly to stay abreast of campus crime trends, educate our campus community on safety issues and provide ongoing training for students and faculty,” Assistant Vice President and Director of Police Services Adam Garcia said. “I encourage our officers to problem solve and come up with creative solutions, and sincerely appreciate the initiative they have taken with these efforts.”

The added student safety initiatives are a part of University Police Services’ strategy for building trust and meaningful relationships with students, faculty and staff on campus.

“Adam and his team embrace the opportunity to teach and connect with students on campus,” Vic Redding, University vice president for administration and finance, said. “The ongoing goal for these events and efforts is to allow officers to engage with our campus community and to help break down some of the tension and barriers.”

Information about Safe Campus, and the full list of top 25 campuses, can be viewed at the Safe Campus Website. Additional events designed for University Police Services to engage with campus include Coffee with the Cops and Pizza with the Police.

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