Tales of the Tower: WKU officials, PFT residents discuss police presence

Chris Rutledge

Lee McKinney, campus police patrol captain, is one of the first to admit that Pearce-Ford Tower and the PFT courtyard are hotspots for campus police.

But is the police presence warranted? McKinney thinks so.

“We’ve had several students complain about the issues in that area, issues from observing drugs being sold down there, issues of fights, issues of people complaining of seeing weapons in the area,” he said. “We’ve increased patrol in that area specifically because of those complaints.”

McKinney went on to reference the Herald’s crime reports, which he said are frequented by PFT.

Brian Kuster, director of Housing and Residence Life, has a different view on the matter, though.

“I looked at the campus crime stats, and Pearce-Ford doesn’t necessarily have more crime than any other building,” Kuster said in a meeting with Herald reporters a few weeks ago.

Kuster said the crimes that do happen are mostly crimes of opportunity that occur when students leave their things unattended or their doors unlocked.

“We do have cameras in that area, so if something does happen, the police can monitor it from their station,” he said.

Kuster doesn’t believe that all of the blame lies on PFT residents either.

He mentioned that the courtyard is an area for community members as well as students.

Kuster went on to say that some of the police presence isn’t even crime-related. Sometimes the police are outside of PFT because they are having lunch in the nearby Tower Food Court.

Winchester freshman Taylor Moody frequently be goes outside of PFT, and he believes that the area is safe.

“It’s well-lit, and there are so many people out there that there aren’t a lot of opportunities for bad things to happen,” he said. “As bad as a rep that it gets, PFT really isn’t an unsafe dorm – especially with people in the lobby being able to see out into the courtyard, I feel like the police presence is unnecessary.”

Moody has had to call campus police for assistance before, a drunken student tried to pick a fight with him.

But he still feels like campus police officers would be more useful in other areas of the campus.

“The way they come out there and just sit around and watch, I feel like there is something else they could be doing,” he said. “I think they have a lot of free time on their hands. Anytime there is any little call, they all come out of the woodwork.”

Moody is also unhappy with the attitude and methods some officers use.

“I’ve met several officers, and I can name three or four that are really nice, but some of them have this attitude,” he said. “It’s almost like they feel like they’re better than everyone and above the law.”

Moody recalled a time when he and his friends were smoking hookah in the PFT courtyard.

“A cop shined a light in my eyes, because he thought I was high, even though I hadn’t given him any reason to think I was,” Moody said. “He went on to make a comment suggesting I was high. I felt very threatened in that situation.”

John Scarpa, a freshman from Clinton, N.J., thinks the police presence is unnecessary as well, mostly because he feels that PFT has improved since his first year at WKU.

“There hasn’t been a lot of crime outside of the dorms themselves,” Scarpa said. “There are no major fights like there were last year.”

Scarpa said most of the officers are nice and professional, but he too feels they would be of more use in other areas.

“They’re just not needed out there anymore, and a lot of people consider it harassment that they just sit out there and watch everybody,” he said.