Chardonee Wright, Staff Writer-
Providing a safe and secure campus environment during day and evening hours is Police Chief Joseph Dooley’s number one goal through the Campus Watch Program at Southern.
“It will help us provide a safe environment,” said Dooley. “It will increase the feelings of safety. I feel this is a safe campus, but having additional people out there, people will feel safe.”
Beta Mu Sigma fraternity and Men About Business are two groups on campus that help keep the program running.
Jason Rizk, secretary of Beta Mu Sigma fraternity, said he volunteers for the Campus Watch Program.
“The greater visibility there is, the more you’re going to reduce the risk of a crime occurring,” said Rizk.
Two escorts are assigned per student. The escorts are provided with a bright green vest, radio, and a flashlight. The escorts have constant radio contact with the campus police department when escorting students.
“What we are trying to do is get more pairs that are out there in critical areas. Ideally we would like to have four groups strategically placed on the campus for high visibility,” said Dooley.
Currently, the program is looking for student and faculty volunteers to help assist in escorting. The volunteers will learn about the overview of the program and how to properly conduct themselves when escorting.
“We want to get more student leaders. Right now we have about 40 total,” said Rizk.
According to College Campus Crime Statistics, one out of four women are sexually assaulted. Sexual assaults are one of the most common crimes on campus.
Lieutenant Richard Randall also described underage drinking as a common crime on college campuses.
“The regular Thursday nights fights between students are usually coming in from downtown at the bars. Those are the types of things that happen,” said Randall. “The other crime we deal with every Thursday night is underage drinking, which is probably the biggest.”
Other examples of crime that are common on campuses are crimes against property, according to Randall.
College Student Safety’s website lists cell phones, laptops, iPods, cash, books, jewelry, credit and debit cards, cash, televisions, and materials used for identity theft as the top 10 items stolen on college campuses.
Southern Police’s brochure lists tips to avoid theft and other crimes from occurring.
Some of the tips suggest not walking alone, using well-traveled and lit areas, having keys ready when returning to a vehicle, and securing all valuables.
In addition, the brochure says to be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts.
The brochure also gives emergency contact information and prevention programs for students to utilize.
Randall said he believes everyone has a role in keeping the campus safe; police, to provide safety; students, to take responsibility for their safety.
Students and faculty who want an escort can call the police department and give their location and destination. The destination has to be on campus property in order to receive an escort. From there, a student campus watch assistant or police officer will come.
The bottom line, according to Randall, is for every individual to become less of a target.
“Everyone is a target. They have a ‘T’ on their back. You can either expand that T or lessen that T. Taking advantage of the program will lessen that T,” said Randall.