Campus security braces for theft season

Of all the crimes reported on the campus of Florida A&M University, the most prevalent is theft. According to the FAMU Police Department, thieves are especially active during the holiday seasons.

“There is usually an increase in activity a week before Thanksgiving until the end of the semester, then again the week before spring break until the end of the semester,” said Lt. Louis Wichers of the FAMUPD criminal investigation division.

Of the crimes reported on campus in 2003, there were 57 burglaries and 10 robberies.

A burglary is defined as the act of entering a building, not necessarily by breaking in, with the intention of committing a crime.

A robbery involves the use of violence or threat of violence to illegally take property.

There were also 11 aggravated assaults, 6 arsons and 2 reports of rape in 2003. While crimes of theft remain at a significant level, the campus experienced a 66 percent decrease in these crimes between 2002 and 2003.

FAMUPD officers, assisted by Barkley Security and the S.A.F.E. Team, said they make every effort to prevent crimes on campus.

“It would be hard for the FAMU police force to cover the entire campus alone,” said Robert Barkley, owner of Barkley Security. “We are here to provide assistance to the police if a crime does go down, we can radio in to our dispatcher who could then notify the police, so that they would be able to respond more quickly like we had to do to stop a fight in Palmetto,” said David Johnson, assistant director of the SAFE Team.

According to Lomar Barkley, co-owner of Barkley security, the best way to prevent crime is for those walking on campus at night to walk with someone, stay out of areas with poor lighting and keep a cell phone on at all times.

“The security is there for a deterrent,” Barkley said.

“If a person is thinking about causing commotion or a crime, and sees the presence of security it will deter them from doing, that.”

“If walking alone on campus, use whatever common sense you would use off-campus,” Wichers advised.

Although the SAFE Team and Barkley Security help the police to secure the campus, there are also emergency telephones or “Blue Lights,” and closed circuit television cameras strategically placed throughout the campus.

Barkley patrols campus at night from 9 p.m. until 2:15 a.m. monitoring the floors in Coleman Library and the grounds of the University; they also patrol the dormitories.

The SAFE Team is available to escort students on campus Sundays through Thursdays from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“I feel FAMU is one of the safest campuses in the state of Florida because they are very proactive when it comes to student safety,” Barkley said.

Alicia Mitchell, 18, a freshman nursing student from St. Augustine, agrees.

” I feel safe walking the campus at night because of SAFE team, and the blue light emergency stations,” Mitchell said.

“I walk wherever there is light at.”

Contact Bobby Powell Jr. at