Country Club residents-Who you gonna call? Not Campus Police

Despite the fact that the Country Club Apartments are part of College housing, Ewing Police and the Trenton State College Corporation (TSC), not Campus Police, are assigned to handling problems there.

While Country Club residents have been told this, confusion often arises in times of problems or emergencies.

Ewing Township police chiefly patrols the area, and residents and staff are instructed to call 911 instead of Campus Police for emergencies.

“Should something happen at Country Club apartments, Ewing Township would provide us with a courtesy notification; and, depending on the situation, we would respond and provide assistance or follow-up with the students and Ewing as necessary and appropriate,” Kathy Leverton, associate vice president of Administrative and Environmental Services, said.

Although Campus Police officers, have statewide authority, they are only responsible for the College campus and the physically adjacent student housing, Leverton said.

Campus Police does not deal with parties at the Country Club Apartments and non-adjacent off-campus housing, and also does not offer them police escorts, a service provided to on-campus students who ask for additional safety walking across campus.

“If we get tied up with stuff outside, who’s to watch out for people here?” Lt. Don Rizzo said. With 15 officers, he said the department has to focus on one area instead of spreading itself too thin.

For example, Campus Police was unable to respond when a resident of the Country Club Apartments was locked out at 7 p.m. Oct. 6 and Residential and Community Development staff called as a last resort.

They had attempted to open the door to the hall office, which contained a locked box of spare keys to all the apartments, the key got stuck.

Unable to open the office or remove the key and a bit worried about security, Housing Assistant (HA) Bridgette McGuire, junior elementary education and sociology major, called the names on the Trenton State College Corporation (TSC) emergency list. After a TSC contact said a locksmith would be sent in the morning, McGuire called Campus Police, the last number on the list – and soon learned that Campus Police could not be of much help.

“They just asked if I had called the people at TSC and if I had left a message with them if they weren’t answering, and that they couldn’t really do anything to get the key out and that TSC is who deals with problems at CCA,” McGuire wrote in an e-mail.

A door with a combination, an alarm code and the locked box, however, all still stood in the way of anyone gaining access to the keys, and TSC sent a locksmith in the morning. McGuire believes the resident was able to obtain a key from the New Residence Hall office, which has keys for off-campus housing facilities.

Not all residents feel the fact that Campus Police cannot help them is fair. “I feel that since we pay room and board to the campus, just like everyone living on campus, then we should get the same protection by Campus Police,” Christina Rossi, senior secondary education/mathematics major and Country Club resident, said.

Most residents, however, said they feel safe under the jurisdiction of Ewing police, noting that when psychiatric patients escaped, there were four to six patrol cars parked outside for hours.

According to Scott Coar, junior criminology and justice studies major, the Ewing police pass by about two times per day, including once at night. “I don’t think the looney bin next door is that big a threat, so I feel perfectly safe,” Coar said.

“The doors all have deadbolts and chains, so no one can get in if we don’t want them to,” Joe Gunderson, junior finance major, said.

Meghan Condran, senior communication studies major, said she prefers being under the jurisdiction of Ewing police.

“Campus Police have this little campus to patrol, so you almost get the feeling they are out looking for insignificant violations,” she said.

“I’ve actually gotten pulled over on campus for going 30 miles per hour instead of 25 miles per hour. At Country Club, the cops keep a presence but you don’t feel as though they are ‘out to get you.'”

For some, it was actually this independence of living off-campus that attracted them to the apartments in the first place.

One of Coar’s friends had the first number in the housing lottery last year.

“We all pooled with him because we all wanted to be far away from campus, and since two of us have free rides, it would be stupid for us to pay for an apartment,” he said.

Both Ewing police and Campus Police are hired through the state of New Jersey, and their salaries are paid through the general treasury at the state of New Jersey, rather than through student fees, according to Leverton.

“The bottom line is that all of our students are supported and protected by fully commissioned police officers, whether it be Ewing or (the College), and that this cooperative partnership between the two agencies truly serves our student population,” Leverton said.