Campus after-hour security increases, burgulary declines

The Florida A&M University Department of Public Safety has made a strong effort to ensure the safety of students who remain on campus after hours. DPS has increased patrols and lights have been added to once poorly lit areas.

The Clergy Act and Crime Statistics provided by officer Sherri Luke show the burglary rate on campus has drastically declined over the past four years. In 2004, there were 37 burglaries reported. This amount was reduced to 24 in 2005, and to eight in 2006. Six robberies reported in 2005 and 2004 decreased to two in 2006. Five aggravated assaults reported in 2004 reduced down to zero in 2005 and 2006.

“Officers have been here a long time and are pretty territorial,” said Luke, Crime Prevention Officer of the FAMU Department of Public Safety. “They know the students and the area.”

Luke said the officers’ knowledge of the FAMU community has helped keep crime rates low.

“It’s nice to know how institutional knowledge held by the officers has kept the crime rate down,” she said. “Law enforcement knowledge combined with institutional knowledge has power.”

Property crimes have been what has plagued the campus the most, Luke said. There are more cases of reported property crimes versus person crimes reported on campus.

Investigative reports provided by Luke show thefts may take place at a specific time but may not be reported until a later time.

A report made Jan. 14. at approximately 2:20 p.m. said a student’s book bag was stolen from the second floor of the New Student Service Center. DPS was not notified of the alleged theft until 10:15 p.m.

Security companies assist FAMU PD in securing campus safety. Student housing has a contract with Barkley Security to patrol the dormitories. Organizations also hire Barkley Security for specific events.

Versailles Simmons, 19, a freshman majoring in electrical engineering from St. Paul, Minn. said campus security has improved.

“I feel it has gotten better since the beginning of the year with the addition of lights and more monitoring police officers,” said Simmons.

FAMU PD has also made strides to taper suspicious activities on campus. A 56-year-old individual was arrested for four outstanding warrants issued by the Leon County Sheriffs Office. The incident occurred Jan. 13 at approximately 10 p.m., when someone reported a suspicious person at the Paddyfote Complex A.

Several buildings use vendors to provide additional security. Sonitrol Security System secures the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication. The security system activates after business hours and shuts the building down. Individuals entering the building after hours are required to have a Rattler card and FOB.

Security concerns were heightened in fall 2007 when four LCD projectors were stolen from SJGC. Three out of the four projectors, which cost the school between $7,000-$8,000, were recovered.

Dr. James E. Hawkins, Dean of SJGC, was disheartened by the thefts but gratified by their return.

“Loss of the projectors was an indication of higher level of crime and pointed out the need for security in facilities,” Hawkins said.

Securities of campus buildings remain tight, but not all doors are locked after class hours.

Buildings with doors left unlocked after 8:30 p.m. included the School of Business and Industry, Gore Complex building A and B, Tucker Hall, Jones Hall, Fredrick Humphries Science and Research Center.

SJGC, the Pharmacy building, Allied health, Whane Rhaney, the University Honors House, Black Archives and all the dorms, among others are locked.

The doors of different buildings lock at various times, depending on the type of building and class schedule.

“Buildings that do not lock automatically are locked by maintenance,” Officer Luke said.

Officers patrol FAMU’s campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “FAMU PD is not just police, but also community advocates,” Luke said.

The Jeanne Clergy Disclosure of Campus Security and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires the University to submit campus security information. It is a federal law that applies to all institutions of higher education, both public and private in the United States that participates in federal student aid programs.