Ghost Town Blues: What Happens When Police Patrol an Empty Campus

Levine Quad

The steady buzz of students bustling in and out of buildings; the cars, trucks and buses pulling in and out of campus parking lots; the constant radio calls and sidewalk chatter up and down Selwyn Avenue in front of Queens University all abruptly stopped in March.

It was the coronavirus, and within days, lights turned off in the classrooms, shortly followed by the residence halls and other frequently inhabited areas. In a word, said Sergeant Marcella Wallace of campus police, the campus went quiet.

But behind the scenes, employees who keep Queens running have continued to press on. Instead of personnel reductions, campus police have hired an additional officer to bolster their force.

Campus police have used the time to train the new officer and have continued to patrol campus at their daily intervals, even increasing time on their feet inspecting buildings and ensuring work orders were fulfilled by campus’s maintenance teams.

The campus has received upgrades while the students have been away. New LED lighting in buildings, additional security cameras, new doors in the Hayes Residence Hall and more has been accomplished in the last several months.

The additional extensive police patrols attributed to no criminal activity being reported in the last seven months. Sergeant Wallace said that no signs of vandalism and larcenies have been reported since students left campus.

Reduced crime is a perk of the lockdowns, but the resulting isolation leaves some campus workers missing student interaction.

“We are social creatures,” lamented Wallace. Even though she said she has still been busy, campus life is “not as interactive. It’s like a ghost town.”

The most difficult part of working on campus during this time, she said, has been not being able to check-in on students, converse or interact with the greater community.

Lion’s Den

“When you see someone, you get excited! But then you remember the coronavirus,” said Wallace, referring to social distancing guidelines and required face masks.

Campus police have maintained strict coronavirus procedures. Wallace and other police officers don masks and gloves when conducting campus building and residence hall inspections. Thanks to supplies procured and protocols established by Chief Lesia Finney of campus police, officers can perform all of their duties with the health and safety of everyone in mind.

As students, faculty and staff plan their return to campus, they will also be expected to do their part by following mask protocols, increasing hygiene measures and monitoring symptoms. Wallace endorses these measures.

“If it’s going to protect me or someone,” she said, “it is important.”

Students and faculty alike say that these health protocols and procedures are a small sacrifice to make to return to campus and resume the quasi-normal, if not dystopian, interactions.

“We’re looking forward to having you back,” said Wallace. “You have no idea how bad we want you back.”

Photo Credit: Charlotte Observer.

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.