Advice for freshmen from UPD’s Chief Mackesy

Amelia Simmons, Police Reporter

The University’s Police Department Chief, Frank Mackesy, is excited to offer advice for all of the freshmen and new students this fall semester on campus.

Chief Mackesy is an alumnus of the University of North Florida and went on to work for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for 32 years before retiring. He finds it to be a privilege to come back to UNF to help serve and protect the students of today. 

Chief Mackesy was more than happy to give an overview of the UPD’s duties and to give students advice from all of his years of experience. 

There are a few ways to contact UPD, one of which is to call them. 

“We are a full-service police department, we’re here 24/7 and you can call us anytime you want. Our version of 911 is 620-2800, if you call that from your cell phone it goes straight to our comm center,” said Mackesy. “If you do call 911 on your cell phone it goes to JSO and they transfer the call over to us.”

If students would like to speak to UPD in person they are located in building 41 which is right next to the UNF Preschool. Chief Mackesy says students can pay the offices a visit whenever they need.

“They can come here anytime day and night, 24 hours a day, and find somebody to talk to,” said Mackesy.“If they need the police, if they have a problem with a roommate in the dorm, anything, 24/7 it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, they can come here.” 

Spinnaker asked Chief Mackesy what the biggest things to stay away from were in order to stay out of trouble when living on campus. 

“Dorm living does tend to lend itself to a lot of calls for police service, weed is a big problem, people smoking. What happens is people cover up their smoke detectors and there is something in that detector that tells you if it’s been covered up. It’s a third-degree felony to tamper with a smoke detector, it’s not a minor thing,” said Mackesy.

When it comes to UPD dealing with students who have been found to do something wrong UPD wants students to have a chance to learn from their mistakes because the officers understand that for many students this is the first time they have been away from home in this manner. 

“If it is a serious mistake, sometimes you have to stand on your own two feet and face the consequences. We have a tool available here that we didn’t have in the bigger world and that’s Student Conduct. So if a student cooperates with us, doesn’t give us a hard time, doesn’t resist us in any way the chances are that the officers are going to send the students to conduct and let Student Conduct deal with the stuff that happens in the dorms. Now that doesn’t mean a first-time offender can’t be arrested for what they did,” said Chief Mackesy.

Chief Mackesy and his officers do want to do right by the students. They want to help and be an important part of every student’s learning. 

“We try to help you learn what are good mistakes and what are bad mistakes,” Chief Mackesy says.

Officers also respond to the blue lights that are located all over UNF’s campus. Chief Mackesy says that the response time for on-campus situations like that is just about a couple of minutes. Additionally, not only do the officers respond to those lights but they also work with an app offered to students called the Safe Osprey’s App. The app has a mobile blue light option that will send your location and call the University Police Department at one time. The app also has other resources like its “Friend Walk” option that allows students to share their location to a friend or family member and can allow that person to alert the police if need be. Ways to find student resources like the Women’s Center and the University’s Counseling Center are always located in the app. 

For students that live anywhere on campus, especially in the Flats, Chief Mackesy says, “The most important thing that people can do to minimize their opportunity to become a victim, not just in the Flats but anywhere on campus, is lock your doors. All the burglaries that occurred a couple years ago in the Flats… all the doors were unlocked.”

No matter what, the University Police Department wants students to know that they are on campus and present to help support students and keep campus a safe place for everyone. The department’s vision according to their website is to achieve, “A safe and secure campus which fosters an atmosphere that allows the University community as a whole to achieve personal and institutional goals pertaining to learning, working and quality of life issues.”


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