Now that it’s been built, Penn Police will do what they can to ensure crime doesn’t come to Penn Park.
The park is “not your normal patrol area” for Penn, since it is a hybrid of busy streets and the calmer Locust Walk, Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said.
“We are able to manage the additional 24 acres without adding new police at this time,” although hiring more officers is not off the table depending on the park’s volume of traffic and usage, Rush said. So far, additional AlliedBarton Security employees have been added to better secure the park, though no crimes have been reported yet.
The Division of Public Safety also added a new sector for police and security officers. As part of its Sector Integrity Program, this means that officers are assigned to patrol only the park, becoming familiar with the area and its community.
A security kiosk — staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year — oversees the entire park, viewing live footage from 29 cameras monitoring activity. Emergency Blue Light Phones that connect straight to a dispatcher were added to the park and alarms were installed in the park’s two bathroom facilities.
DPS has been “at the table” since the beginnings of the park’s design, working with Facilities and Real Estate Services to maximize security in the park. DPS and FRES worked to design the lighting scheme to make the park well-lit. Fire and Emergency Services was also involved in the placing of fire hydrants.
Two Siren Outdoor Systems were added to the park, which can transmit emergency messages and signals, bringing Penn’s SOS count to a total of 15 outdoor speakers across campus, according to Division of Public Safety spokeswoman Stef Karp.
The park was equipped with three portable and three stationary automated external defibrillators, in the event of cardiac problems of an athlete or park visitor.
DPS will be adding signs to indicate bicycles are not permitted on the three bridges in the park.
“Deployment is always fluid and adjustable,” Rush said, adding that DPS will analyze how the park is used and whether the resources it has provided match the park’s needs.
“The park is open to everyone who has a purpose,” Rush said, and for them, “we will work to enhance their experience.
“During the day, it is not meant for someone to use as a house or a bedroom, it is open recreation space,” Rush said, adding that the park closes to visitors at midnight.
So far, “it’s been a real good experience … we haven’t run into any difficulties,” Chief of Police Mark Dorsey said. “People are enjoying it and that’s what we hope.”
College junior Jessica Arneson said she has felt “very safe” in the park, where she practices with the softball team at least twice a week. “No one has been off-putting in any way” in the park, and Arneson looks forward to nighttime games in the spring, which will be kept well-lit and safe, she added.
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