Washburn police department acquires new patrol vehicle

Victoria Garcia

The Washburn University Police Department now has an additional task force vehicle to aid them in their commitment to provide a safe campus and learning environment.

Dean Forster, chief of Washburn police, explained that the upgrade to a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe was much needed.

“The other car we had was wearing out and kept breaking down,” said Forster. “We began to realize that the cost of fixing that vehicle was more than its actual value, so we decided to look into purchasing a new one.”

Although the cost of the new Tahoe was covered by the WUPD’s budget, the overall price tag was lowered thanks to a state contract that is also shared by the Kansas Highway Patrol.

“The state issues a request for vehicle proposals and, in return, dealerships sell them to us for a more affordable [price],” said Forster.

With their last vehicle purchase dating back to 2004, Forster hopes to use the new Tahoe to haul traffic cones, barricades, signs and jumper cables. Because the WUPD doesn’t usually drive the vehicles at high speeds, repair costs are low and the department is able to get better mileage out of the cars.

“As the weather continues to get warmer, more of our officers will be using the bicycles to make their way around campus,” said Forster.

In 2007 the WUPD unlocked 152 vehicles and jump-started 131. According to Forster it’s the winter season that brings challenges, ranging from accidents to cars that won’t start because of the colder weather. While campus traffic is greatly minimized during the summer session of classes, the amount of campus activity and patrolling remains near to the same for officers.

Keeping in stride with their plans for a safe and orderly campus, the WUPD is preparing to expand their department and create an emergency operational center that will serve as a better way to analyze threats to the campus. The entire remodel is scheduled to be complete in August 2008, just in time for the fall semester.

Forster, who graduated from Washburn in the mid-1970s, said he is very impressed with Washburn’s attitude toward security and is glad that the university has provided him with a large amount of support.

“I appreciate the fact that they listen to me,” said Forster. “If I didn’t believe in what I was doing and I didn’t have support, then I wouldn’t be here.”