Students summon Public Safety to surprise party, thanking officers for keeping campus safe

"Thank you for making Princeton a safe home." "Thank you for all you do 24/7." "I don't even know how to express my gratitude in words." "PSAFE RULEZ!"

Those were just some of the sentiments of students who recently threw a party to show their appreciation for the University's Department of Public Safety, or "PSAFE," as students call campus police.

Public Safety Surprise Party card

Princeton students in 2 Dickinson (2D), an independent vegetarian food cooperative, recently threw a party to show their appreciation for the University's Department of Public Safety, or "PSAFE." The students surprised officers with a cake, thank-you cards and an appreciation video. Students signed the card with sentiments such as "Thank you for making Princeton a safe home." (Photos courtesy of 2 Dickinson cooperative)

About 25 students in 2 Dickinson (2D), an independent vegetarian food cooperative, surprised Public Safety officers with a cake, cards and thank-you video on Saturday, Dec. 3. The students called Public Safety to report a loud party in the area where 2D is located, on Dickinson Street adjoining campus. But when officers arrived to check the noise complaint, they instead found students shouting "We love Public Safety!"

"We wanted to surprise the officers, so we called a noise complaint on ourselves," senior Vidushi Sharma said. "We all gathered on the porch to await the officers with the chocolate cake and a big card. When they arrived, we yelled 'PSAFE WE LOVE YOU!' and ran down to give them hugs. The officers were hilariously bemused but so appreciative."

Co-organizer Alexandria Herr said it was a way to recognize everything Public Safety does to keep campus safe, all the while showing concern and care for students.

"Princeton's campus police deals with everything from noise complaints to dangerous situations with almost unanimously recognized professionalism and kindness," said Herr, a senior. "As people signed the thank-you card, we heard stories about how officers have helped students in a variety of incidents, from helping towel-wrapped freshmen locked out of their rooms to taking care of friends in emergency medical situations. We truly appreciate their desire to get to know students and this was just a small token of our love!"

Sgt. Stephen Solovey, one of the responding officers, said he and his colleagues were touched by the unexpected celebration.

"It's not every day that we are able to know the impacts of our jobs here on campus," said Solovey, who has worked at Public Safety for four-and-a-half years. "To be honored with this simple and important gesture really shows us that we are making a difference in serving our community the best we can."

Public Safety Surprise Party Group

Public Safety officers and about 25 students enjoy a surprise party for Public Safety on Saturday, Dec. 3. Students thanked the officers for keeping the campus safe, while always showing concern for students. Public Safety staff said the event was touching and boosted morale throughout the department.

Solovey said the officers appreciated being able to take a few moments from their work to hang out with students.

"In a time where the national climate for law enforcement is tough, it is truly touching to experience an event like this," he said. "When I started working at Public Safety and learned what it meant to interact with students, I immediately saw the positive impacts of my job. It means so much to me and other officers that students trust us and are able to come to us when they need us."

Sgt. Jason Vacirca said all Public Safety staff have been boosted by the students' acknowledgment of their work.

"Morale is through the roof," said Vacirca, who has worked at Public Safety for five years.

Executive Director Paul Ominsky said the party shows the impact of the department's community caretaking initiative.

"The Department of Public Safety strives at being helpful as campus resources and collaborators with all students, staff and faculty," Ominsky said. "Our community caretaking mission is something we believe is a model for Public Safety nationally. The surprise appreciation event the students hosted meant a tremendous amount to not only the responding officers who were working that night, but to our entire department. In today's climate, this simple but important gesture of baking a cake and making a personalized 'thank-you' card truly touched our hearts."

And while the festivities were brief so officers could return to their duties, the night was memorable for everyone.

"The students got to mingle with the officers and they traded stories with us about their adventures," Sharma said. "We plan to have them back to dinner at the 2D co-op soon!"

Solovey added, "My favorite part of the party was seeing the joy it brought to the officers and to the students. And the cake. The cake was absolutely awesome. I'm not sure who tipped off the students about chocolate being our favorite flavor."