With all of the festivities lined up for Florida A&M University students, the FAMU Police Department plans to take a united and proactive front for this year’s homecoming security.
People are coming from far and wide in celebration of a “FAMUly Reunion: 130 Years of Excellence”— the 2017 Homecoming theme. According to a 2016 study by Downs & St. Germain Research, about 29,000 fans packed Bragg Memorial Stadium during last year’s game.
Whether it is alumni, past and current professors, or folks who are just looking to party, the population on campus is bound to temporarily increase, and FAMU Police Department is expected to amp up their security.
Chief of Police, Terence M. Calloway, described this year’s security tactics as a more proactive approach. He said it takes for the unit to learn from past mistakes and hiccups to go forward in tackling safety concerns.
“We make sure that we are in contact with the Tallahassee Police Department for various patrols during the events on Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” Calloway said.
The department plans to bring in extra enforcement during the end of the week for preventative measures. The unit has also implemented presentations on how students can be safe during stages of the year where an influx of people come in.
Calloway gave a few tips for visitors and students during this highly populated week. He offered parking advice to those visiting the hill and recommended those visitors to come with good intent.
“To students, try to make sure that you walk in at least a pair with someone else,” Calloway said. “And if you see something, say something. What we’ve found is that some people like to prey on the innocent and we want to avoid that.”
Monday, Oct. 17 to Saturday, Oct. 22 marked FAMU Homecoming 2016. According to a 2016 public crime log, seven crimes were reported by the Department of Campus Safety and Security within that time frame. These crimes were restricted to campus.
During the 2015 homecoming season, 10 crimes were reported from Monday Oct. 12 to Saturday Oct. 17.
These crimes include assault, battery, hit and run, drug violation, larceny, fraud, a trespass warning, burglary, disorderly conduct and grand theft of a motor vehicle.
Huge masses of people can make for opportunity spaces in crime and Calloway urged students to always be alert of their surroundings.
Calloway cautioned people to not bring weapons into Tallahassee. All guns, tasers, pepper spray and padlocks were included in his advisory. He said with weapons, people are looking at a formula for disaster and enforcement has to do their part in having a strong presence.
Tallahassee has a special enforcement unit for parties that regulates those functions and ensures that gatherings are managed safely.
“It’s the outside elements that concern me from a house party,” Calloway said. “People are not fighting anymore, they’re shooting. When they’re shooting, the bullets have no way of knowing where they’re going and hits an innocent bystander most of the time.”
Landsey Elisson, a senior business major at FAMU, was a bystander who witnessed a tragic turn of events that ultimately took the life of a close friend, Quinton Langford. The incident also left Elisson in a critical state, with his central nervous system affected.
Although the fatal shooting of Langford occurred off campus, Elisson recommends for students to stay away from alternative outings, also known as house parties.
“There are so many uncontrollable elements, that you can’t really contain everything,” Elisson said. “There needs to be more policing after 12 (a.m.). You shouldn’t allow visitors to even park on campus.”
Ellison said if visitors were off campus at a certain time there would be no room for congestion, and it would be difficult to commit any crime.
If a student sees a hostile environment flaring up, Calloway advises to leave immediately. He believes variables like conflicting personalities, alcohol intake, overcrowding, pride, prejudice and cliques are what create dangerous outcomes.
As long as students are on campus, officers have a good handle on control, Captain William Evers of the FAMU Police Department said. Evers said the department has a sense of what areas in the community to look out for. Police look at concentrated crime in the given areas. An element as minor as low lighting can affect a particular street.
Evers reiterated that the different people from across the land add to the unsafe potion during this time of the year.
“With the Funk Fest, every year the crowd gets larger and you have people of all ages,” Evers said. “That opens the campus up to a lot and when you do that the FAMU Police Department has to cover the campus.”
FAMU’s homecoming encounters people from the many cities of the United States and the community can be exposed to more suspicious behaviors.
“People from all over live different lifestyles and when they mix in with Tallahassee they see that (the town) is a slower place. They try to implement what they see in the bigger cities. But when you underestimate law enforcement, you find that you can’t get away down in Tallahassee.”