The police department’s new Chief of Police Brian Joschko moved in this summer, and his experiences at Marquette University have prepared him well for the position, he said.
“Marquette and Bradley are very similar in that they are urban schools just outside of downtown, and surrounded by challenged areas,” he said. “Both are also thoroughfares to get from one side of the city to another, and the way Peoria operates is that you pass through campus to get to the city, and that allows for crimes of opportunity.”
Since arriving on campus. Joschko said he has had his eye on Main Street.
“The area along Main Street was an area of concern initially, but nothing has occurred,” he said. “We have beefed up patrols since [Main Street Commons] opened because a lot of people were concerned about security. We’re not done, but we have taken some really good steps.”
Some of those steps, Joschko said, include better lighting and security cameras.
“Main Street is still a priority for us, but Main Street Commons has hopefully begun the transformation of Main Street,” he said.
Joschko said students can expect to see greater presence in and out of the squad car.
“You will see more officers on bike patrol and we will focus on foot patrols in certain areas,” he said. “We’re also looking at technology so officers can write a police report right in the squad car. You will start to see squad cars parked in lots around campus writing reports. This way we can get them back in the community, and it’s a deterrent for activity.”
Joschko said he also wants greater police–student interaction, ideally before handing out a ticket.
“One of the things we’re transitioning on is letting officers and the university know that we’re a student-centered operation. Officers will go and talk with people to establish good rapport with the students,” he said. “There appears to be quite a bit of animosity from the students toward the officers. That is what we’re going to be focusing on changing.”
Another change to the campus this summer was swipe-card access in Heitz Hall, and Joschko said he is a big supporter of the system.
“I oversaw all of the card access at Marquette, and Bradley doesn’t have as significant a card access system,” he said. “There has been a big push in the residence halls for that and it’s a great initial step in making residence halls secure.”
But card access, he said, will take student cooperation to maximize security.
“Card access doesn’t necessarily make a building more secure,” he said. “People are raised to hold the door for people behind them, but we need to teach people that if you’re going to let someone in, make sure you know who they are.”
And card access should not stop at the residence halls, he said.
“My vision would be to see card access on a greater scale, even into the academic buildings, identical to what the library has in place.”
From his initial meeting with the student body, Joschko has been impressed, he said.
“I thought move-in was phenomenal. The fraternities and sororities helped us a lot with getting people moved in, and the block party was outstanding as well,” he said. “I met so many wonderful students. It was a very warm welcome to the university.”