By Jeff Murphy, November 10, 2023
Part of an annual tradition and a reminder of the important role the University of
Central Missouri Department of Public Safety plays on campus and in the community,
a UCM patrol vehicle joins the university's fall 2023 Homecoming parade.
WARRENSBURG, MO – Making the safety of students, employees and campus visitors a priority,
the University of Central Missouri has established multiple initiatives to meet this
goal with the help of $326,000 in grant funding since August 2022. The grant-funded
projects initiated by the UCM Department of Public Safety are made possible by campus,
local, state and federal sources, and include traffic safety education and equipment,
impaired and hazardous driving enforcement, anti-terrorism equipment, protective equipment
for police officers, and interoperable communications equipment.
“We are committed to providing a safe environment for our campus community,” said Bill Brinkley, director of Public Safety at UCM. “Funding from these grant opportunities allow us to implement new strategies and equipment in order to do so.”
The funding includes five grants from the Missouri Department of Transportation totaling $170,163. These funds made it possible to hire one additional police officer to focus on impaired and hazardous driving enforcement, and provided a new police vehicle for this position, radar units, a radar speed trailer to be deployed throughout campus roadways, overtime pay for enforcement activities, and training opportunities for police officers related to traffic enforcement.
Public Safety also received $14,000 from the Destination Safe Coalition, which unites federal, state, regional and local agencies to improve transportation systems for 13 counties in Greater Kansas City. UCM used these funds to purchase three dual purpose radar and messaging signs to be installed on major roadways through campus. These electronic signs instantly inform drivers of the speed they are traveling, and make it possible to display messages for emergency or informational purposes. The signs will also collect speed and traffic data that can be shared with the city of Warrensburg.
Brinkley said the public education component of these traffic safety projects are just as important as conducting enforcement.
“If we can deter dangerous driving habits with high visibility and education, many of our goals are achieved before needing to take enforcement actions,” he commented.
Public Safety also received five grants totaling over $72,000 from the Missouri Department of Public Safety. This funding contributed to the purchase and installation of dash cameras in patrol vehicles, replacement of police officer ballistic vests, purchase of a mobile camera system trailer that will allow deploying live-feed video cameras to various areas to support event security, and the installation of digital radio equipment in the department’s dispatch center at 306 Broad Street in Warrensburg.
A $57,099 Missouri Office of Homeland Security grant has made possible the purchase of a mobile barricade system that can be easily moved and deployed. It is designed to stop heavy trucks.
“Vehicular-based terrorism has been a growing concern for many years,” said Brinkley. “This system allows us to quickly deploy these barricades to support special events not just on campus, but throughout our community and the region.”
Brinkley added that these types of barricades are not currently in use in this area. Public Safety is pleased to obtain them so they can be implemented when necessary.
Another grant is being used to promote safety and awareness of a growing issue on Missouri highways. The UCM Alumni Foundation provided $4,030 in funding to obtain driver education equipment related to cannibas-impaired motorists. Public Safety purchased cannabis impairment goggles and activity sets to demonstrate how using this drug impacts drivers who are under its influence. The goal is to help individuals to better understand how cannabis consumption may negatively affect drivers and to encourage them not to drive while impaired. Brinkley said there has been a significant increase in cannabis-related impaired driving arrests locally.
According to Brinkley, all of these grant funds were received as the result of competitive application processes. He expressed his appreciation to the various organizations which have made these funds available to enhance safety initiatives at UCM.