The Student Newspaper of Highline College

Highline Director of Public Safety David Menke says his department is doing its part to protect the campus during the pandemic.

Public Safety supporting the college’s efforts to deal with Covid-19

Mark Wilkins Staff Reporter Oct 14, 2021

Crime was down at Highline last year amid the pandemic, but students should still take care when they’re on campus, the college’s top public safety official said. 

“There is a slight drop in almost every category due to the fact that most classes were held remotely, and employees worked from home,” Menke said.  “The fact that the population on campus decreased significantly correlates with the data we are seeing on the Annual Security Report.”

The reduction did not come without special challenges.  Two of these included, “letting the community members know the campus was closed and being able to social distance during interactions,” Menke said.  “We also had to be vigilant to the fact that campus buildings could be targeted due to being empty.”

As students return to campus Menke sees a new challenge.  “I think one challenge will be to ensure everyone follows COVID-19 safety plans and the state mandates,” Menke said.  

Highline’s Public Safety department is staffed to provide a safe environment, he said.

“We currently have 12 employees in the Public Safety Department,” said David Menke, director of Public Safety and Emergency Management.  “This allows us to patrol the campus 24/7 every day of the year.”

In addition, Highline has a strong relationship with the Des Moines Police Department.

“We meet with their leadership monthly to discuss crime trends, and support the campus may need,” Menke said.  “We are also represented on the police department’s Chief Advisory Board and are able to give direct feedback to the department regarding law enforcement concerns within the city.”

Public Safety will be heavily involved in the enforcement of the school’s COVID-19 safety procedures.

“Public Safety is involved in the Public Health Management Team and has input into the college’s hybrid operation model,” Menke said.  “Public Safety has plans to hire a health and safety monitor position to assist in enforcement of masks and vaccination mandates.”

“We try to empower staff and faculty to offer a mask and then ask the individual to leave due to noncompliance,” Menke said.  “If anyone refuses, then Public Safety would be contacted to assist with the situation.”

As for student safety, “We always ask students to remember we are an open campus and not everyone who comes to campus has good intentions,” Menke said.  “This means that they should always keep their vehicles locked up and valuables out of sight.

“Do not leave belongings unattended so that they do not become a victim of a crime of opportunity,” Menke said.  “In the evening we recommend not walking alone or calling Public Safety for a safety escort.”

Help is just a phone call away, he said. 

“Students and staff can contact Public Safety at 206-592-3218 (ext. 3218 for on campus phones),” Menke said.  “In the parking lots we have blue emergency phones which dial directly to Public Safety and will forward to 911 if someone does not pick up.”