Campus Safety Looks Out for EveryoneHow a lesser-known but crucial part of the Gustavus community operates behind the scenes.
Posted on March 18th, 2024 by

The Gustavus Campus Safety Office is dedicated to making everyone in our community feel more secure.

Scott Reiten flashed a wide smile as he sat down to talk about his job. Despite its somewhat intimidating name, Gustavus’s Campus Safety office has a jovial presence at its head. Reiten talks in upbeat bursts that signify an eagerness to dive into his job.

He arrived at Gustavus in 2019 after stints in emergency management and as a paramedic. Reiten was named director of the Department in 2023. “I was able to use my [emergency management] skills to help young adults,” he said. “That’s just in my DNA, trying to help people, and that’s the case for most officers here.” Reiten is also part of the Gustavus Bias Response Team, which gathers information about incidents involving bullying, discrimination, or related issues and takes action to resolve the situations.

Eight different officers staff the Campus Safety Office under Norelius Hall, with experience levels ranging from 16 to 26 years. The office also has three newer officers. Like Reiten, some have come from security jobs. Or they may have just graduated law enforcement school, awaiting their first official police job.

What they share in common is their mission of keeping students safe. “You can’t eliminate risk, but you can try to reduce it as much as possible,” Reiten said. “Our job is to make sure that we have eyes open for things that are out of place. We are watching to make sure everyone gets to their destination safely. We also have our eye out if something suspicious is occurring.”

The Campus Safety Office has student dispatchers who work from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m. They manage parking permits, visitor passes, and other processes, such as fielding calls from community members who have locked their keys in an office or dorm room. (This ends up being one of the Office’s most frequent tasks.)  The officers often respond to service calls about wonky toilets or sinks, when timeliness is important to prevent leaks or floods. And they respond to any fire alarms. “Late-night incidents with those happen a lot,” Reiten said. Students will attest to this. The last couple nights before I talked to Reiten, fire alarms had been a routine nuisance. “Some don’t go off completely if the sensor is bad,” Reiten explained, “but we will still get an alert on our radios if this happens.”

Each Campus Safety officer carries a defibrillator for medical emergencies, and they will also give rides and medical escorts if necessary. During the holidays, the Department focuses on maintaining the buildings and grounds for international students who stay on campus. And at any time of year, the officers always try to be anywhere there is a crowd, as any congestion increases the risk of injuries and can exacerbate the consequences of other incidents. “Even if we are short staffed, we still have someone pop in and out,” Reiten said of crowded events.

And then there are occasional alcohol and marijuana calls. Because Gustavus receives federal funding, marijuana possession is not allowed on campus. “If someone smells it, we get called,” Reiten said. “We’ll get called if something is too loud or there’s drinking.”

Among the lesser-known but routine Campus Safety tasks at night are running patrols, and at least three officers overlap on the typical shift. (They also check all buildings at least once per day.) “It’s nice to have that number,” Reiten said. “There are 40 buildings, so for one officer to check every single one on patrol would be tiresome.”

The officers will often perform additional duties such as ensuring the navigability of campus; the day we spoke, Reiten was planning precautions for a coming snowstorm. “Tonight could be one of those nights,” he said, explaining how the officers work with Facilities to salt sidewalks or plow roads. 

Overall, Reiten and his staff are committed to maintaining many procedures and amenities Gusties sometimes overlook. Reiten’s and his colleagues’ optimism and dedication makes our campus safer and are a key to keeping the Department, and our community, running smoothly. “The rewarding part for me,” Reiten said, “is helping students and getting to know them and doing what we can to make sure they get an education safely.”



Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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