FAMU PD bringing back student escort program

Parents may experience different levels of stress while their child is away at a university. Besides debt, according to Phi Delta Kappa International, a professional organization for teachers, researched in 2018 after the Sandy Hook shooting, that 34 percent of parents are in fear of their child’s safety compared to records in 2013, where only 12 percent of parents were in fear.

Campus safety is critical in choosing what school one’s child can attend.

Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University’s Department of Campus Safety and Security’s core value is P.R.I.D.E; referred to as Pride, Respect, Integrity, Dedication and Excellence.

In 2015, JaDashia Willingham, a senior social work student from Polk County, parked her car behind the vacant residential halls, Diamond and McGuinn. She returned to find her car had been burglarized. Unfortunately, there were no cameras.

The core value dedication states “we are committed to excellence and strive to provide the highest quality of professional law enforcement service to the students, faculty/staff and visitors of FAMU with the ultimate goal of creating a safe environment where people can work, live and visit without fear.”

“There are not surveillance cameras inside and outside of every building. We try to put them in areas where we think would be most susceptible to a crime; however, within the last few years about 200 additional cameras have been added to the campus as well as lighting,” FAMU Police Chief Terence M. Calloway said.

Besides constantly interacting with the community, offering self-defense courses, informational sessions and adding more officers, FAMU PD plans on bringing back the student escort program where students would pick up and drop off other students around campus starting at dusk. The program would operate more like Uber. The FAMU PD also has a safety walk every year where faculty, students and community members are placed in groups. Around dusk, each group walks certain areas of the campus and pinpoint what he or she believes are safety issues.

“I am glad to hear about the student escort program. When I didn’t have a car, FAMU PD picked me up from the library numerous nights and took me home. With the student escort program officers can be used for other issues,” said Joshua Atkins, a senior pharmacy student from Nashville, TN.

Chief Calloway said, “The way you eliminate crime is to remove the opportunity. An opportunist is going to always be there, and no one can control that, but the opportunity can be controlled.”

Nastassja Dugason, a junior veterinary technician student from Orlando, said “FAMU PD helped a lot with car issues I’ve had like locking my key in the car or running out of gas on campus.”

Dugason got emotional when she described how “It was such a blessing” when she was struggling with getting groceries, the officers were there for her.

FAMU alerts students of an emergency is through the university’s Blackboard connect. “We encourage students to sign up,” Calloway said.