Campus Security ups the ante with new emergency plan and expansion of surveillance

Campus Security ups the ante with new emergency plan and expansion of surveillance

Photo by Emma Ayers

In the aftermath of the shootings in Las Vegas and the Texas church, Lee University is re-examining its current security measures and implementing a new plan in case of emergency.

Campus Security, under the leadership of director Matthew Brinkman, serves students as a constant guard over every part of campus.

“[Campus Security] is very vigilant to keep the campus under a 24/7/365 perspective," said Zach Skinner, current Resident Director of Bowdle & O’Bannon Halls. "By this, it is the only department that operates continually without any gaps in service or personnel. There is always an officer on patrol and checking on the campus.”

However, Skinner does realize the potential for crisis to hit Lee University’s campus.

“With [Campus Security’s] current no gun or weapon policy, they are equipped, but they could be lacking if—which I pray to God it does not happen—a serious life-threatening incident were indeed to occur,” Skinner said.

But Brinkman is confident the new Campus Emergency Plan—which includes drills, evacuations and alerts—will contain any future crises.

“We have been tasked with updating the Campus Emergency Plan which will take place now and through next year. This plan will be updated and put into place in the event of any major incident, including active shooters, but also much more common emergencies like inclement weather,” Brinkman said. “This will be a multi-department and multi-agency approach to make sure that we have the best plan in place in the event of a serious incident.”

As Lee University completes its expansion into the south side of campus with the openings of the School of Business and Dirksen Row, current security challenges are also expanding.

According to Brinkman, the south end of campus’ security will quickly be brought up to speed. “We are currently in the process of expanding our camera surveillance system onto the south end of campus. We will be adding additional cameras covering all parking lots as well as green spaces over the next year,” said Brinkman. “We are also doing lighting analysis to see what lighting we need to keep parking lots lit for safety, but still go with the overall look of the University. We are also extending our fence that separates Walker Street from campus further south to cover new parking lots and new purchased property.”

Ben Jones, an area coordinator in Residential Life and Housing, emphasized the connection between physically safe and emotionally safe. “We work with Campus Security to address needs as they arise and to ensure that the physical buildings themselves remain appropriately locked, with access restricted only to the residential life staff and students who live there in order to provide a safe environment to our students,” said Jones. “We know that physical safety is an important element of feeling emotionally safe in the residence halls as well, so we like to focus on ‘safety’ from that kind of holistic perspective.”

But Skinner does recognize the challenges different housing styles may have. In regards to apartment housing, Skinner said, “Dorms have front and back doors as well as internal dorm doors which add multiple levels of protection and safety as well as privacy for students, whereas the rows do not have these additional safety measures.”

When it comes to dorms, Skinner said, “By the very nature of the occupants, dorms have more underclassmen with freshman and sophomore status, which in turn means that they are younger and are more prone to doing more dangerous and less helpful activities.”

Brinkman re-emphasized the need for student involvement, saying, “The role that students can play is to be vigilant. If you see something that seems out of place or not right, then call us and let us check it out. It might be nothing, but then again it could be the start of something.”

Jones echoed Brinkman’s advice, “Even if your concern ends up being unfounded, we would prefer you let us know so that we can look into it rather than assume that it will not escalate.”

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