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Ambassadors respond to nearly 50,000 incidents in past year

UPD releases 2016 safety program statistics

Over the past year, Ambassador Program employees responded to 48,121 calls or requests, according to 2016 statistics released by the University Police Department. The majority of these responses were “Calls to Command For Documentation Only” — or calls simply to note an observation such as a broken streetlight or hazard in the road.

Among the remaining 4,784 responses made by Ambassadors were 1,413 walking escorts, 1,007 calls for police assistance and 827 calls for medical assistance.

An additional 1,537 actions were “Calls to Command for Directions” or “Calls to [Emergency Communications Center] for found property.”

The Ambassadors, employed through RMC events, are based out of the UPD substation and patrol the Corner and popular off-Grounds residential areas. Shifts run from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m., with Ambassadors patrolling either on foot or using bikes.

The number of Ambassadors on duty depends on the needs of the night, Shawn Jacobsen, RMC Events regional director of western operations, said.

The number of calls Ambassadors make peaks when the weather is warm and the University is in session. August through October are the busiest months for the Ambassadors.

Moving forward, UPD Crime Prevention Coordinator Ben Rexrode said he hopes to increase communication with the public to clear up misconceptions about the program — “who [the Ambassadors] are and who they aren’t.”

The Ambassadors “are not trained, nor do they have the authority, to detain people or investigate,” Rexrode said. “The main thing for the program is their high visibility and high engagement.”

While the Ambassadors do have daily communications with University Police, their main function is to be a “responsible party off-Grounds” rather than enforce the law, Rexrode said.

The role of the Ambassadors is akin to a “safety concierge,” Jacobsen said. It is their job to “find people that have put themselves in a vulnerable situation,” whether purposefully or not.

The Ambassadors have the additional benefit that “people in uniform tend to have more presence about them as an authority figure,” Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen also stressed that students should feel comfortable going to the Ambassadors if they need any assistance.

The Ambassadors “are here to help people,” Jacobsen said. “We’re not trying to get anyone in trouble.”