Criminal activity heightens school’s awareness

Administration from the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication are reexamining security measures, following a string of recent burglaries.

Since Florida A&M University’s 2007 Homecoming, three liquid crystal display projectors have been stolen from various classrooms and offices at the school in three separate incidents.

Burglars gained access to the building during the first break-in by knocking out a window in the school’s Gallery.

The most recent incident was reported to the FAMU Police Department on Monday at 2:27 p.m., leaving administrator’s wondering what more can be done in the face of such a bold crime. James Hawkins, dean of SJGC, said he thought the burglary was “truly a brazen act,” especially since the projector was stolen in the middle of the day.

Hawkins recounted, “I had returned [to the building] from a meeting and inspected the system after the alarm sounded.” He decided to do a walk through of the building when he noticed an LCD projector missing from one of the classrooms.

“It’s frustrating,” he said, “because this technology costs a lot of money. In 30 days we’ve lost $12,000 in technology.”

Those that are affected the most by possible security changes will be members of student media organizations, who often spend long hours in the building.

“We are trying to accommodate student needs after hours,” Hawkins said. “Needless to say there are people who abuse the privilege and ruin it for everyone.”

Dionna King, 21, a senior journalism student from Atlanta and editor-in-chief of Journey magazine, said FAMUPD came and requested IDs and took down names during a late night of working.

“I felt like a criminal in my own school,” King said. “Instead of monitoring students that are actually doing work, focus needs to shift to finding the people who stole the projectors.”

Admittedly, King said he now thinks twice before leaving anything of value in the building.

“It’s got to stop,” said Hawkins of the theft. “Otherwise we jeopardize the investment entrusted to us. We really need 100 percent cooperation.”

The journalism school is not the first on FAMU’s campus to be burglarized.

FAMU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, Ware-Raney and the student union building are but a few that have suffered losses of property and damage this year.

But despite recent bouts with security, both burglary and larceny have declined in recent years, with burglary down 34 percent from 2005 and larceny down 28 percent, according to the 2007 Campus Safety Report.

While newer facilities normally have more updated security, Lt. Angela Kirkland said she believes, “it wouldn’t hurt [to have more security in the buildings]. I know that monetary constraints are a big factor in the type of security that many of the school’s have.”

The SJGC was completed in 2005. Security costs for the school run approximately $12,000 per year.

Although the case remains under investigation an image of a suspicious person, caught by cameras in the building, has been shared with both FAMUPD and Sonitrol, the security company.

“We will continue working with Sonitrol and FAMUPD,” Hawkins said. But he admits that thus far, the security system isn’t enough. Faculty and students are being asked to make more of an effort to lock doors and be more discerning about whom they allow in the building after hours.