UCD security ambassadors provide safety

Recognized by their distinctive yellow shirts, the security ambassadors tour the University City area in an effort to deter crime through their presence as opposed to solving crimes after they have been committed. — UNIVERSITY CITY DISTRICT

The University City Police Substation is a small, but well-equipped security center where its officers coordinate a diversity of programs designed to protect and serve residents of the area.

Some of the services provided include an escort and vehicle assistance including jump starts and aid with keys locked inside of cars.

“The Ambassador program is a great service provided to the community,” said University City District (UCD) Ambassador Program Operation Manager Alan Garry. “We have our security ambassadors out there who are tasked with making sure the community [is] safe. We really stress them to go above and beyond the kind of customer service, concierge service.”

He said the Ambassador Program and its security team are in a constant state of development in which they learn as they go how best to secure the residents of the area but prides itself on being a part of the community and working with them and not simply for them.

Recognized by their distinctive yellow shirts, the security ambassadors tour the University City area in an effort to deter crime through their presence as opposed to solving crimes after they have been committed.

“It actually started [in 1996] with the University of Pennsylvania with four members of security on the corners,” Garry said. “When UCD was developed it was in partnership with all of the universities in the area and it [has] continued to grow.

“The escort service is something we strongly encourage the community to use,” he added.

Once a call is made, the caller needs only give his or her first name, current location and final destination and a UCD security ambassador will meet them to escort them to their destination within five or ten minutes.

“Basically we will safely walk you to your destination.” Garry said.

Another way someone in the University City area can receive an escort is to stop any member of the UCD security team and ask to be escorted.

“Our ambassadors will then call that in to radio dispatch so that the escort is properly documented and the escort will begin,” Garry said.

While there is no way of knowing the number of daily escorts being made, monthly reports are kept and Garry said they escort some 500 people a month now, up from 350 when he first started a year ago.

“Part of this increase is because we are more proactive now,” he said. “Our ambassadors are being tasked with being proactive so if they see someone walking alone, they are asked to stop and ask if they would like an escort. We are being very proactive now.”

Those likely to use the service are new students, especially those from out of town, but there are also what Garry calls “regulars” — those who are escorted everyday from the same time and the same place by the same security ambassadors.

Services are not limited to University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. UCD security ambassadors extend themselves beyond university grounds.

“We patrol not only college campuses but we extend further out into many of the surrounding areas as well so we have a good opportunity to interact with the residents as we do with those on campus,” Garry said.

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