Campus Safety and Security: Building Community Relations
Caitlin Dorsch ~ Co-Editor in Chief
With many questions surrounding the parking issue on-campus as a result of the building of Westover Hall, many students, faculty, and staff members of the University of Lynchburg have looked to Campus Safety and Security for answers.
Since the beginning of the school here, the University has had a number of traffic violations, from minor parking violations to hit-and-run incidents. In fact, just last week, there was a hit-and-run incident, according to the University’s Daily Crime Log found in the University of Lynchburg website in the Campus Safety section.
As shown on the University of Lynchburg Campus Safety and Security website, there are around 20,000 calls for service, ranging in severity within each academic year, from students locking themselves out of their residential hall room to noise complaints. In light of these calls, the University of Lynchburg’s Campus Safety and Security Department was excited to announce Officer Crystal Grey as Community Relations Officer, who is meant to bridge the department to the students by building a relationship with all students.
Dean Caifano, Deputy Director of the University of Lynchburg’s Campus Safety and Security Department, said that “[The department] named Officer Grey with this new position to increase the rapport and relationship between our department and students. Although [the department] consists of officers who take safety seriously but also who immensely care for others, we wanted to create this position to demonstrate our commitment to the care of students.”
This community policing approach is one that the department believes will encourage students to report crime or suspicious persons on campus over time. Caifano insisted that this “bridge-building” between the department and students allows for “relationships to be fostered through community” rather than force. Director of Campus Safety and Security, Bob Driskill, said, “The department is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for the protection of our students.”
Caifano went further to mention the department’s relationship to local police departments within the community. He feels that this connection has fostered an outlet for “support and education for all parties involved.”
In fact, last week, the department hosted a Crisis Intervention Training day on mental illness at the University for all officers of local police departments. Both Caifano and Driskill acknowledged the importance of understanding the effect of mental illness on individuals and how to act when a situation arises where that type of support is necessary, and stated that this communication in a non-judgmental atmosphere is drastically important to the safety of everyone involved.
The department has found the LiveSafe app to be very beneficial in keeping the anonymity of reports, as well as for students to communicate with its officers. Both Driskill and Caifano stated, “The LiveSafe app is important for all students to have ” for the benefit of communication and safety on our campus.
Along with the App, the building of relationships between the officers and students is sure to help reduce anxiety felt by students regarding the Campus Safety and Security Department.
“Transparency and genuine caring for our students are two important qualities that our department prides itself on having” said Caifano. He went further to say, “These qualities, possessed by all faculty and staff members in our department and who we interact with on-campus have aided us in protecting our students as well as building a strong relationship with them.”
Both Driskill and Caifano wanted to make sure that the students were reminded of certain tips for safety and security on campus as well. Caifano stated the importance of “reporting, reporting, reporting” if anyone seems suspicious around campus or something seems to be dangerous for you or others. He cited the anonymity of the LiveSafe app again with this statement. Also, Driskill stated the importance of “locking doors and vehicles” in order to prevent crime from occurring. These “common sense” tips are what allows crime to be prevented and ensures the safety of students on-campus, according to Caifano.
Lastly, Driskill mentioned the importance of understanding the rules and regulations set forth in The Hornet. Caifano stated that “The Hornet is meant to act as a guideline for students to act safely and to ensure their own protection.” But, both Driskill and Caifano wanted to stress that their department works “to care for and to protect the students.”