UA Police Chief Seastone talks safety for the new school year
The Daily Wildcat sat down with Chief Brian Seastone of the University of Arizona Police Department to discuss what the UAPD does for students, how to be safe on campus and ways to enjoy your time here at the UA.
Daily Wildcat: How long have you been with the University of Arizona police department?
Brian Seastone: 39 years. It’s been a long time.
DW: How did you get involved with UAPD?
BS: When I moved down here from Colorado in 1980, I had been a deputy sheriff in Colorado. I had the opportunity to work a lot with the University of Colorado Police Department, and I really enjoyed the type of policing that you get to do. In many ways, it’s a lot like being a county sheriff, only on a smaller basis, because you get to know the community, you can get out and interact a lot more. And so I put in my application here and, lo and behold, here I am today.
DW: What would you say is the best part about your job?
BS: As cliché as it sounds, it’s being at the university. It’s working with and beside just really incredible people. From students, faculty and staff, to the visitors that you get here, because it’s just such a wide range of people. The university keeps you young. I’m not quite the brown-haired guy I used to be many years ago, but it just keeps you young, and each year there’s a new excitement with a new class coming in. And that just kind of reinvigorates you every year.
DW: What are some other services that the UAPD offers to students?
BS: Oh, we have a number of things. We have a crime prevention unit that provides presentations throughout the year, starting with orientation and really through the faculty, staff and students on just about any topic. We have our intern program, which we started about two-and-a-half years ago now, that allows us to have up to three interns each semester for students that are interested in law enforcement and want to see how we work or how law enforcement works. Our program has gotten a very good response. We have our community service officer program, which are students that work for us. They’re our additional eyes and ears out there. It gets them, again, a behind the scenes understanding of law enforcement. You don’t need to be criminal justice [major]. We’ve got folks that’ve been engineers and everything else that wanted a job, wanted to see what we do. We have our liaison program in our residence halls and the greek system, where we have officers assigned to those areas that can be a one-on-one resource.
We know people coming from some areas of this country, the university is bigger than their hometown. So it gives them a contact and it allows the officers to get to know people in that residence hall or that greek affiliate house. Besides the day-to-day law enforcement functions, we really want people to know that we’re their hometown police department, and we know that people sometimes come with a different view of what law enforcement is. One of the things we really try to do is get people to understand that we’re here for you, we want you to succeed, we want to help you be safe, and that it really is a community effort. So, being out and engaged and involved, I think, is another one of our big assets.
DW: What are some ways that students can help keep others safe on campus?
BS: Just being really great citizens, and that is if you see something that just doesn’t seem right, go ahead and give a call. We’ve got our LiveSafe app because for some reason people are afraid to call 911, but with the app, they can go directly into our dispatch and report whatever is going on and our dispatcher can then communicate back and forth. If it’s a crime in-progress, we ask that they call 911, just because we can get the information faster, we can relay it, et cetera.
But watching out for each other. We know that with the environment, you can kind of get comfortable and so you may not be paying attention, et cetera. Especially in that first six weeks of school, it’s tough for people to get acclimated. So that buddy system of, “Hey, just checking on you,” or if you’re going out to a party, maybe go in pairs. Watch out for each other. Don’t be afraid to ask somebody if they need some help. I think that’s probably the most important thing. Or just be a caring person. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen somebody fall or something and people just keep on walking by, you don’t see that very often here. Somebody’s always going to stop and help people up. That’s just being a good person and a good community member.
DW: How can students keep themselves safe?
BS: For all the years I’ve done crime prevention, it almost feels like I preach, but it’s not meant to be. It’s being aware of your surroundings. You know, you’re new to Tucson or you’re going out and you’re not really sure about this person, let somebody know where you’re going, with whom and when you expect to return home. We know that we can never eliminate alcohol and drug use, but realize that if you’re not used to drinking, it doesn’t take a whole lot to impair your decision making. So be cautious with that, especially that first six-to-eight weeks of school because of that, “I’ve got to go that party, I’ve got to fit in.” You should still be yourself, watching your own behavior, locking your doors, even in your residence hall. You know, we all want to think we’re safe and everything, but it only takes a minute for somebody to find an open door, and if your computer is sitting there, laptop or iPad, it can go away. Remember to watch stuff in the library if you’re studying there. Just don’t leave your backpack and those types of things. A lot of the same things we’ve been told since we were little kids, lock the doors and watch out.
We’re very fortunate here on our campus that we don’t have a lot of crimes against individuals, it’s more of the property crimes, the theft and burglary, that type of thing, so minimizing that risk is really important. From another safety standpoint, we’re all addicted to [cell phones] right now. You’ll see so many people paying attention to [them] instead of looking around, crossing streets without looking, headphones in while running or walking, and you can’t always hear what’s around you. So be cautious with [them] as well. Don’t text and drive. You know, Tucson has the city ordinance and there’s now the state law that will go into effect in 2021. But right now, it’s on the books, but it can’t be a citable offence. People need to be aware of those things, because it only takes a second. Honestly, a second to distract and all of a sudden, you’ve hit somebody or somebody has hit you.
DW: Do you have any advice for our incoming students this year?
BS: My advice is what I’ve done for years, and that’s enjoy. Get to know people, get out of your comfort zone a little bit and just meet people. We’ve got 100-and-some countries represented here. There’s 500 clubs and organizations to get involved with. Being involved helps people feel that ownership. Be careful. Don’t succumb to peer pressure. Be yourself. Study! That’s why you’re here! Get into a habit, a routine.
Reach out to the folks back home every once in a while, because they still worry about you. Moms and dads and family members and friends are always there for you. It’s really important that they’re a part of your life and engaged. I miss mine a lot. I want to call them and they’re just not here anymore to do that, so keep in touch. And just… enjoy. This is such a great place. Not only the university, but the Tucson area, all of Arizona. There’s just so much to see here.
Another thing is that college is a different environment [than high school]. Set realistic expectations for yourself and don’t get down on yourself. There’s so many resources for students to utilize, like the ThinkTank. Get to know your instructors. You may need a letter of recommendation or something like that down the line and it’s easier to get it if you have a relationship with them.
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