Posted April 29, 2024

As students prepare for Commencement, so is TUDPS

Members of Temple University's Department of Public Safety, including police officers, security officers, dispatchers and administrators, are all working together to prepare for Commencement.  

Photography By: 
Matt Petrillo
Temple Police Officer Camponelli and K9 Falko patrol outside of the Liacouras Cente.

As Temple Police Officer Jesse Camponelli walked with his partner, K-9 Falko, around the Liacouras Center on a recent Friday morning, he said he’s looking forward to a busy three days of Commencement.

“It will be all hands on deck,” Camponelli said. “There’s always big crowds and a lot of traffic, but that’s why we’re here, to make it as smooth as possible,” Camponelli said. 

The K-9 Unit is among dozens of members within the Department of Public Safety (TUDPS) who are working in overdrive to plan a safe and celebratory commencement, said chief and Vice President for Public Safety Jennifer Griffin.

“For Public Safety, this is our Super Bowl, spread across multiple days,” Griffin said. “It takes the entire Public Safety team to work together to ensure faculty, students, and their families and friends have a great experience.” 

Schools and colleges within the university will hold nearly 20 graduation ceremonies over three days of Commencement. To cover it all, the planning starts months in advance and includes partners across the university to make it a success.

Among the partners are the university’s dispatchers who work 24/7 inside of Temple’s Communication Center. They will be fully staffed and in constant communication with Temple Police to make sure everything goes off without a hitch, according to Sgt. Lauren Boone. 

“Communicate, collaborate and coordinate,” Boone said. “That way, we’ll all be on the same page.”

She added dispatchers can be contacted directly by calling 215-204-1234.

Griffin pointed out that each school within the university has different needs, and it’s the responsibility of Public Safety to meet them. For instance, if there is a special speaker, a plainclothes police officer may be assigned for extra support. 

“With any speaker, we work hand in hand with the school’s leadership and the speaker’s team to make them aware of our safety and security protocols and with the city of Philadelphia,” Griffin said. 

In an effort to increase patron safety at The Liacouras Center, metal detectors will be in use at all entrances and there will be a clear bag policy in place. More safety measures are listed on the Commencement website. 

“We recommend limiting the items you bring into the arena,” Griffin said, adding TUDPS is also planning for traffic. 

“In addition to our experienced Temple police officers, we’ll have the traffic unit from the Philadelphia Police Department to help,” Griffin said. “We hold regular meetings with multiple law enforcement agencies in the region to share resources and best practices.”

The Office of Emergency Management is also keeping an eye on the forecast.

“We’re hoping for a beautiful, sunny day, and encourage attendees to keep track of the weather,” said Len Clark, director of emergency management. 

Clark added that should there be any major weather patterns, announcements would be posted on the TUDPS Instagram account (@TU_Police). 

TUDPS has also had operations meetings with the president’s office, the Liacouras Center, provosts, facilities, grounds, housekeeping and others. 

“Watching the students walk across the aisles in their gowns - who you’ve seen from freshman year to graduation - and seeing how they've grown as young adults, it’s a rewarding feeling and a happy day for everyone,” said Officer Camponelli.

“The days are very long, but the reward is seeing the smiles and tears of pride on students and their supporters’ faces,” said Griffin.