Former UT basketball player Justin Drummond has been helping the school’s police department with safety issues around campus.
While former University of Toledo basketball player Justin Drummond was chasing his basketball dreams, he always thought about a career with the FBI.
The safety and security of others always was a passion of his. As he learned more about the criminal justice system, a job in the private safety sector became more appealing.
So while still a basketball player at UT in December, 2013, Drummond launched SparkC, llc., a safety innovation company.
“As I learned more and more about the criminal justice system, I just wanted to affect it in a different way,” Drummond said. “What we are doing now is what I describe as safety innovation. SparkC is a safety innovation company that provides innovative strategies to enhance protection where people live, learn, work, and play.”
While at UT, Drummond connected with police officers that were brought in to discuss safety risks for athletes on campus.
“When I was at Toledo, coach [Tod Kowalczyk] always brought the University of Toledo Police and the [city of] Toledo Police in to speak to us about proper campus behavior and staying safe and staying out of trouble. Coach K brought these people in front of me and from that I connected with the officers. From that point on, that was when I really started forming my own approach about being on the private side instead of actually inside a government or state agency.”
Last week Drummond, president of SparkC, returned to the Toledo campus to partner with the university’s police department to create a digital safety campaign for the department. Drummond, along with volunteers from UT, created videos which touch on important safety issues on campus.
“We provide digital safety content,” Drummond said. “So it is videos or digital presentations of the safety information that the department tries to get out to the students. We know students don’t always read the emails or posters or don’t read the text alerts. If you can have these videos that they can see with quick safety messages, we believe that it brings a higher retention rate. And having volunteers doing it on their own campus makes it more relevant to the students that are going there.”
Jeff Newton, Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police for the UT Police Department, said the videos will be marketed through social media, beginning next fall. He said the videos will focus on emergency communication and general public safety information, as well as more targeted areas like theft prevention, bike safety, and pedestrian safety.
“We wanted to increase our social media presence and use social media to convey some of our important messages and highlight some important safety information, and raise awareness to different safety features that we offer at the university,” Newton said. “That was our main reason for engaging with SparkC on this.”
Drummond has enjoyed returning to his alma mater to help create a safer environment for students.
“The University of Toledo does a great job with social media, the school, and the police department,” Drummond said. “Bringing this service on shows the forward thinking of the department, just to add another relevant piece to the puzzle and make it that much stronger. That’s what I love about working with them is they are forward thinking.”
SparkC, based in Washington, D.C., has launched similar digital safety campaigns at George Washington University, Howard University, Morgan State University, and the Catholic University of America.
Drummond hopes a successful campaign with the UT Police can lead to growth in Ohio, with other schools such as Bowling Green, Ohio State, and Ohio University possibly catching on to the digital safety trend as well.
Drummond, who was a standout player at UT, passed up opportunities to play professional basketball overseas in order to pursue this business venture.
“I had some opportunities to play basketball overseas, but as I started to get closer to graduation and even my senior year, I just started to love business and see some real promise with that,” Drummond said. “With the connections I was building at Toledo, I just had confidence in myself that I could make this happen.”
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