One Year After Lockdown, More Awareness of Campus Safety
By Nathan Cheatham & Justin Cheatham
Live Wire Staff Writers
Published April 7, 2014
New emergency phones will be active in East lot within two weeks as the Manchester Community College Police Department continues to increase campus security and awareness since last year’s lockdown, said Master Sgt. Davis of the MCC police department.
Efforts to create a safer environment on campus were kicked into high gear after the campus was locked down for more than four hours on March 6, 2013, because of a suspected gunman on campus. Though no gun or suspect was found, Davis said that he had personal revelations from his experience and has been implementing new protocol this past school year.
We will be “continuing to do our shelter-in-place drills to keep everyone informed and ready,” said Davis. Two drills were held last semester.
He is also working with Manchester Police Department to streamline its response on campus. The lockdown lasted longer than it had to for some students, faculty and staff in part because the MPD officers that responded lacked in depth familiarity of the campus. Davis said he is working with that department to make sure that if another situation arises, it can be resolved much quicker by bringing MPD officers to campus for tours.
Updates online through social media and the website will also be integrated into a plan to communicate with college community members more during extended situations similar to a lockdown, said Davis. Complaints about shelter-in-place drills have also decreased on MCC’s campus, in contrast to other campuses, which Davis shared, have been met with increasing resistance.
A two part survey had also been commissioned by the state to report on safety and security, and Cleary Act compliance, in all state schools in the state higher education system. The survey, which began in October 2013, must be finished within one year. Elert & Associates are an IT consulting firm that is completing the survey. They have visited all the state campuses and should be finished soon, said Davis.
Improvements to the campus infrastructure have also been completed since last March, like the new parking lot and additional emergency phones. Some of the new “blue” phones in the East lot have not run since they were installed last August due to multiple setbacks, said Davis. In September when the lot was finished, a part was missing. Then issues with the cold weather pushed resolution of this issue until the recent thaw.
Davis said he hopes all the emergency phones will be up and running within two weeks. One is already operating. Campus police and IT have also been awaiting new cameras that will be added to the emergency phones, as well as the roof of the Great Path Academy building. The cameras will bring better coverage of the East lot for police, but will be used for investigation only, not monitoring, said Davis. The cameras going on the GPA building will be able to pan, tilt, and zoom.
In case of an emergency, contacting 911 from a cell phone will bring the quickest response. Though there is no campus nurse, campus police respond to any medical emergencies, said Davis. It has been about seven years since MCC has had a campus nurse, and the last nurse was for information only. Davis said that the medical treatment the police provide does not detract from other police duties. The campus police have one EMT on staff, Officer Glenda Sinnamon, but all the officers are trained in emergency first aid and are first responders.
Davis suggested that if a community member has a certain medical condition they should let someone know, like a professor or a peer that is always around. Then, in case of a seizure or other emergency campus police can be informed when they arrive at the scene. The most important advice Davis gave was not to be shy, call for help – by emergency phone, cell phone or voice – if you’re having any sort of emergency. Campus safety is everyone’s responsibility.