(JACKSON, Miss.) — JSU’s Department of Public Safety received seven new utility task vehicles (UTVs) intended to increase law enforcement visibility, and improve mobility and response time, a critical milestone of the campus safety plan.
These climate-controlled, fully cabbed, six-seater, all-terrain UTVs come equipped with LED emergency light bars, emergency siren and PA system, data sharing and tracking capabilities, and lockable cargo boxes to store first aid and safety supplies. Other features include
- Front and rear cameras,
- A front winch with a 2,500lb towing capacity, and
- Other items included in standard public safety packages.
Police radios and markings are scheduled to be installed soon. The features included in each unit are equal to those of a traditional police cruiser, prompting one administrator to refer to the units as “urban policing vehicles.”
JSU Chief of Police Herman Horton stated, “Aside from the UTVs being more compact than full-sized patrol vehicles, they are also more fuel efficient, which is an economic plus for the department.”
Being at the center of a densely populated area, in an open campus environment, with limited through-streets for traditional law enforcement vehicles to get from one side of campus to the other, makes UTVs ideal vehicles due to their high maneuverability and low profile, Horton added.
The Division of Campus Operations, a relatively new and growing division, was established in Fiscal Year 2021. The Division includes the Departments of Auxiliary Enterprises, Public Safety, and Facilities and Construction Management.
During the same year, four core objectives were established to improve safety operations, deter crime, and quickly respond to danger. These are:
- To engage technology to modernize policing techniques
- To engage, develop and strengthen jurisdictional partnerships
- To increase and retain a highly skilled workforce, and
- To provide and facilitate comprehensive training programs to better equip public safety personnel
The strategic investment in UTVs supports utilizing appropriate technology to modernize policing techniques.
Since receiving the UTVs, Public Safety staff met with law enforcement partners at the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks to get an overview of safety features, controls, and operations.
On Feb. 16, 2023, student leaders, who attended the monthly Student Campus Safety Group, were given a close-up view of the new UTVs and discussed how these vehicles would be used to address concerns raised by the group.
“This is one of many more steps that Michael Bolden, executive director of Campus Operations, has taken to help move the Department of Public Safety forward in its policing and public safety strategies. It is our goal to continue shifting the paradigm from traditional law enforcement to the concept of public safety at Jackson State University,” Horton said.
A special thank you to Mitchell Shears, Ph.D., executive director of JSU Title III programs, for assisting with purchasing the UTVs.