Public Safety Initiatives

TAMPA, Fla. (Updated May 28, 2010) -- Since establishing USF's Division of Public Safety in January 2008, the University of South Florida Tampa campus has implemented various initiatives aimed at providing a secure environment for the university community. 


USF helps keep the campus safe with its effective use of the USF Emergency Notification System. The system is comprised of six methods used to reach out to students, faculty and staff during an emergency. These methods include MoBull Messenger for text message alerts, sirens, the USF website, digital display boards, a 1 (800) hotline number and mass e-mail notifications.


The USF Emergency Notification System is only activated when an emergency requires a large number of individuals take immediate action. The system uses a tiered approach and each method provides an additional layer of notification in an emergency. No one method is intended to reach all individuals, and there is intentional duplication of messages across various methods to ensure that as many individuals receive notification as possible. Individuals are encouraged to share emergency notices with others as soon as one is received to increase dissemination of important information. 


Mo-Bull Messenger: In August 2008, USF administration required registration for MoBull Messenger, making subscription to this emergency text messaging system mandatory for all students. Currently more than 65,800 students, faculty and staff are registered.  


Sirens: USF completed the installation of eight emergency warning stations located throughout the Tampa campus in May 2009. Each station has a siren, loudspeaker and a strobe light. The loudspeaker provides information about what the emergency is and how to respond. The sirens are not intended to reach individuals inside buildings or facilities on campus.


Web site: In the event of an emergency, the USF.EDU home page is taken down and only emergency information is posted and accessible. New information is posted as updates are provided by the University Police Department. The USF Web site is the best place to receive the most thorough, accurate and up-to-date information during an emergency. 


1 (800) Hotline: The USF hotline at 1 (800) 992-4231 is updated with pre-recorded information during an emergency. The hotline can also be operated by staff during an emergency if the situation necessitates that additional information, direction or resources need to be communicated and the personnel can be put in place in advance, such as in the event of a hurricane or ongoing emergency.   


Digital display boards: There are 120 digital display boards stationed in various buildings throughout the Tampa campus. These display boards flash “EMERGENCY” in red to draw attention and provide emergency information regarding the situation when an event occurs. 


E-mails: Notification is sent via e-mail to faculty, staff and students during an emergency. The e-mail messages contain information about what has occurred and how to respond.


Other measures implemented by USF's Division of Public Safety that increase campus safety include:


Combined dispatch: The University Police Department, AlliedBarton Security and Parking Enforcement  formerly operated three separate dispatch operations on campus. All three have now been consolidated into one Public Safety dispatch system. The new, 24/7 dispatch operation allows for instant radio communication among all units that support campus safety and security.


A tactical response team: The University Police Department has created a tactical response team specially trained to be the first responders in an emergency. The UP participates in an annual active shooter response training scenario developed and conducted by the tactical response team. 


Self defense classes: The University Police Department provides two programs - Rape Aggression Defense (RAD)/Basic Physical Defense and the National Self Defense Institute/Self Defense Awareness and Familiarization Exchange (SAFE) Programs. These two programs offer comprehensive courses for women that begin with awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance and progress to the basics of hands-on defense training. Both provide women with the knowledge to make an educated decision about resistance. The RAD Program is offered as a credited semester course through the Physical Education Department, while the SAFE Program is a 1- to 2-hour course offered periodically throughout the year.


New student orientation: The University Police Department participates in new student orientation programs which provide basic information about police response and safety issues.


Diversified training:  AlliedBarton security officers and Parking Enforcement personnel have received additional training in traffic control, CPR, first aid, and elevator rescue during power outages.


Bicycle patrol officers: The University Police Department has added bicycle patrol, increasing officer visibility and mobility on campus.


In addition to these methods, USF's Division of Public Safety has added two new components to its safety initiatives – Smart 911 and Guardian. Both initiatives are one-year pilot projects available to all Tampa students and employees who can register for the services on the USF MoBull Web site beginning June 1, 2010.

Smart 911: Provides emergency responders with critical personal data about a subscriber in the event of a 911 call. This critical data may include a USF ID Card photo, class schedule for students, office location for faculty/staff, vehicle information and for customers with certain cell phone carriers, a physical location of the individual via GPS location services. Having this information available to emergency responders can improve outcomes of emergency calls. 

Guardian: Can turn a cell phone into a mobile safety device when subscribers activate a “precautionary timer” as they travel from one area of the campus to another. The timer is set as the individual leaves a location and will alert the University Police if that person does not call to cancel the timer in a specified amount of time. If the alert does not get cancelled, University Police are provided with critical profile information and for some customers with certain cell phone carriers, a physical location via GPS.


Both services are voluntary, opt-in programs and the location and personal information of a subscriber are only accessible by emergency personnel when contact is initiated by the individual. Smart 911 and Guardian use technology from Rave Mobile Safety, a company currently providing other safety programs at the university. The first year of operation will be considered a pilot phase at USF. If successful, USF will consider renewing the agreement and making these programs a permanent part of its public safety program.


USF Student Government has also assisted in making USF a safe and secure campus by creating the SAFE Team.


SAFE Team: Provides students with safe travel from one campus location to another during evening hours of operation from 6:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Students who call the SAFE Team at (813) 974-SAFE during operating hours can have an escort accompany them to their destination by foot or golf cart, or wait with them until their ride arrives. SAFE Team is a free service utilized by thousands of students each year. The SAFE Team is also trained to patrol the parking lots and report any unusual behavior on campus to the University Police Department.