Penn State Harrisburg

Personal safety a top priority at Penn State Harrisburg

As students continue to settle into college life and their studies in the new academic year, personal safety and security should also be a top priority.  For many new students, this is the first time they have been responsible for their own safety.  By adopting simple safety measures and knowing what college resources are available, students will be well equipped to keep themselves and their belongings safe.

“Although Penn State Harrisburg is a safe campus, that doesn’t mean that crimes can’t happen,” said Kevin Stoehr, campus chief of police.  “Simple, common sense measures go a long way to help students not become victims.”

Chief Stoehr provided basic safety tips for students:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.  Always be cognizant of where you are, who is around you and what time of day it is.

       “If it’s dark, we recommend walking with a buddy or contacting the campus escort service,” Stoehr said.

       The campus escort service, available to all students, faculty, and staff, provides a police officer to walk individuals to their dorms and vehicles if they feel unsafe.  You can reach this service at 717-948-6232.

  • Eliminate the opportunity for thefts.  Lock your dorm room or apartment doors and windows.  If you commute, lock your car doors.  Keep an eye on your belongings.

       “Crimes of opportunity are very common,” Stoehr said.  “Taking the time to secure your belongings goes a long way to ensuring you will not become a victim of theft.”

For more safety tips, visit harrisburg.psu.edu/safety-police-services/crime-prevention-measures.

Penn State Harrisburg is currently installing additional security cameras and ID card readers to better secure access to certain buildings, Stoehr added.

He also urged all faculty, staff, and students to register for PSUTXT, an easy and accessible system that notifies individuals via cell phone or e-mail in the event of a campus closure or emergency. 

“This is the best way we can reach you in case of an emergency,” Stoehr added.

To register, visit psutxt.psu.edu.   Be sure to select Harrisburg Alerts in the Optional Groups section to ensure that you receive notifications specific to this campus.

Penn State Harrisburg police services operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with officers on duty around the clock.  The campus police are also available by dialing 911. 

Emergency phones are available throughout campus.  “If someone picks up one of the phones, an officer is dispatched,” Stoehr said.  “The caller doesn’t even have to say anything.”

Students should also program the number for campus police – 717-948-6232 – into their cellphones and/or keep the number in an accessible place at all times.

Stoehr said that illegal drug use and underage drinking are the most common safety issues that colleges face.  Penn State Harrisburg has strict policies on alcohol and drug use, which are strongly enforced.

Sexual assault is one of the most serious crimes plaguing college campuses nationwide.  Penn State Harrisburg offers many informational resources on dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  The campus also offers self-defense classes.

Stoehr said the most important step a victim of sexual assault can take is to report the incident.  “Often times, these crimes go unreported.  I urge students to report these incidents to the police.  If they do not want to go to the police, they can confidentially report it to Counseling Services.  Our priority is the physical and emotional well-being of the victim.”

To educate and equip women with the knowledge and skills they need to prevent, avoid, and survive assaults, the Department of Safety and Police Services offers the Rape Aggression Defense: Systems of Self Defense (R.A.D.) program and the Self-Defense Awareness and Familiarization Exchange (S.A.F.E.) program on campus.  For more information, visit harrisburg.psu.edu/safety-police-services/self-defense.

Emotional support services are also available on and off campus:

  • On Campus - Counseling Services is available to provide emotional and logistical support for crisis situations such as sexual assault by calling 717-948-6025.

  • Off Campus - The Rape Crisis Center is a community service with a 24-hour hotline. Trained individuals are available to help victims deal with the emotional, legal, and medical issues related to sexual assaults. A representative can also accompany victims to the hospital and court proceedings.  Call 717-238-7273 or 1-800-654-1211 for more information.

For more information on sexual assault resources and awareness, visit harrisburg.psu.edu/safety-police-services/sexual-attack