Mayor Dick Yoder proposed what is being dubbed as the Ambassador Patrol Program last spring as a way of making West Chester Borough a safer place to be on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.The proposed program, which is not in implementation yet, calls for WCU students, primarily seniors or graduate students majoring in criminal justice, to assist the West Chester Police Department by performing standard tasks that would greatly improve the nighttime environment of the town.
The students would walk around downtown and be able to report illegal activity or unacceptable behavior to the police via a communications system provided to them by the police department. Additionally, they may be asked to escort citizens from restaurants or bars to their vehicles or encourage visibly intoxicated people to take a cab home. The students would not have the power to detain or arrest people.
Students would patrol a large area of the borough including many areas on Market, Gay, Matlack, Walnut, High, Church and Darlington Streets, as well as the Mosteller and Bicentennial parking structures on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. To avoid confusion, students would wear uniforms identifying them as members of the patrol force. “We have a need for this, and the resource is right in our backyard,” Mayor Yoder told a reporter at The Daily Local.
At this point, nothing is in the works and there are no concrete plans for the program. Questions about training, supervision, liability, compensation and safety are in the process of being worked out.
When asked if the program sounds like a good idea, WCU seniors responded in varying fashions. “I feel as students of this university, we are somewhat responsible for holding each other accountable for our actions, but I don’t feel like the opportunity should be just limited to criminal justice majors. We all have the power to hold each other accountable,” said senior criminal justice major Steve Brenoskie.
Another senior majoring in criminal justice, Connie Funk, feels that although criminal justice students would be the most qualified, “by targeting criminal justice students as Ambassadors, we may look like snitches rather than fellow students. There would need to be a certain degree of anonymity in the program.” Sean Ebling, a criminal justice senior doesn’t want anything to do with the program. “If West Chester Police and the borough need more help, here’s a simple answer: hire more cops so we can have jobs,” he said.
The Ambassador Patrol Program, meant to improve the relationship between the community of West Chester and West Chester University, is still in the works. Look for updates in future issues of The Quad.