PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) College campuses offer different kinds of experiences, but one thing they should share is that they should be safe. A program at SUNY Plattsburgh bands peers and police together with one goal in mind -- the safety of the college campus.
"I never imagined myself working with them," said Humberto Alvarado, a student safety ambassador at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Breaking boundaries and working to bridge the gap -- that's the idea behind the PSU Police's Student Safety Ambassadors program.
Here's how it works. The students patrol campus together, walking the halls of buildings at night or providing late night escorts for students, walking them back to their dorms and making them feel safe.
"I really think that's the most important thing on a college campus -- you need to feel safe. If you don't feel safe why would you really want to go there?" said Richeal Quartey, a safety ambassador.
"Students utilizing their peer-to-peer model, they're more approachable than maybe we are. The uniform can put up a barrier. Most of the time when we are interacting with someone it's not on their best day," said SUNY Plattsburgh Police Ofc. Coty Cowles.
The safety ambassadors are not officers -- rather an extra set of eyes or a peer to listen and lend help
"The way I see it is it's like two parents -- the nice one and the mean one. So University Police would be the mean one because they need to follow protocol and stuff. We are like, 'Don't do that, is everything okay?'" Alvarado said. He says the ambassadors are there to help the students and campus community. "Maybe brighten their night or help them in a way that you didn't think was valuable -- that's important to me."
The ambassadors also benefit from these officers and maybe learn a little more about the person behind the uniform.
"To be able to know that we're just people under this uniform that care. We do the job to protect people -- people we don't know -- because we care deeply about the community we serve. So hopefully they'll take that and learn that while they're here, said SUNY Plattsburgh University Police Lt. Jessica Facteau.
Right now there are three students employed by University Police and next year they hope to have more employed and add interns.