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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Police Chief Advocates Common Sense for Campus Security

    Concerns about campus safety and security flood the minds of Stony Brook University parents as students flock onto campus for the start of the fall semester. The worry of some parents, usually those of Freshman students, is novel and sometimes aggressive while for many of the parents of returning students it amounts to just a quick reminder to their children to keep safe.

    With the ample change the campus has endured this summer alone, ranging from construction and the introduction of new facilities to rises in student population and changes in their demographics, safety and security concerns are natural.

    The Stony Brook University population is comprised of an increasingly large student body with many commuters, residents and visitors, along with a large number of faculty and staff. Keeping the university safe and protected is the responsibility of all members of the campus community, according to Assistant Chief of Police, Douglas Little.

    ‘The students as well as faculty and staff on this campus must enter a partnership with the campus police department to ensure the safety of all,’ explained Little.

    He encouraged all individuals on SBU campus to employ the ‘common sense approach to safety and remain aware of their surroundings.’ Activities such as driving and walking around campus, according to Little, should be met with basic precautions like looking both ways before crossing and obeying the speed limits. ‘With 35,000 people on campus and 21 miles of road, it’s imperative that drivers refrain from speeding and that students and staff crossing the streets walk defensively.’

    ‘We, at the police department, also consider ourselves educators,’ explained Little. ‘By writing summons and maintaining a constant police presence on campus we encourage safe behavior.’

    According to Little, living and eating on campus should be met with the same, simple approach. Most of the thefts occurring on campus can be prevented if students are more mindful of their belongings while moving around campus, especially at the dining halls, and by remembering to lock their dorm doors before leaving for the day.

    ‘Unless an individual comes forward and admits to committing theft, it is near impossible to recover stolen property,’ he said.

    The campus police department has also initiated safety services that cater to the specific needs of the student body, and especially to commuting students. ‘The walk service and the ride program were created with student safety and comfort in mind,’ said Little. After a late night of studying at the library, students can be walked back to their dorms to avoid walking alone at night or get a ride back to their car from an officer or security vehicle after bus service hours have ended.

    As the SBU campus slowly becomes more crowded and as the student body continues to grow each subsequent semester, safety concerns involving relationship issues and personality disputes become increasingly important. ‘We try to provide proactive services, not just reactive ones in response to the quality of life issues of our growing community,’ says Little.

    With overcrowded dorms, the stress of living and studying together can quickly escalate into something more serious. ‘Our most valuable asset with respect to these issues is our student affairs department,’ says Little, ‘we work with them to try and make campus life more comfortable.’ Campus resources such as the Judiciary, Women’s Center, Campus Residences and the Health Center all provide services that address the needs of students in precarious personal situations.

    Lessons learned from the Virginia Tech Massacre have prompted an official committee to look into the communications capabilities of SBU campus in emergent conditions. The possibility of using campus-wide text messages and the ‘NY Alert’ system in order to relay critical campus and state news, respectively, through cell-phone text messages is being discussed.

    ‘Our emergency management team and communications structure are already in place and more extensive than in any other local community,’ insists Little. ‘The police department at Virginia Tech responded confidently and with appropriate discretion,’ he explains, ‘they acted on the information that they were given.’

    In the event of any type of emergency disaster or situation, the emergency management team responds through an incident command system. All officials, from officers all the way up to the president, act through a chain command system. Students would be informed of news through the email, telephone, television or the university website. ‘Our officers would respond normally in any situation and inform students as necessary in a timely fashion,’ explained Little.

    ‘Stony Brook campus is adequately staffed daily by campus officers, said Little.’ On any given day there are a number of foot officers monitoring the campus as well as approximately six patrol vehicles. The campus is staffed with 43 patrol officers, 50 security officers for the HSC tower and over a dozen administrative officers as well as a full fleet of vehicles. In addition, the Suffolk County Police Department is under a ‘memorandum of order’ with the Stony Brook Police Department. ‘We always have backup,’ he noted.

    Our police department responds to approximately 20,000 calls annually, covering all types of cases, medical and criminal alike.

    Overall however, Assistant Chief Little maintains that SBU has an exceedingly safe campus. ‘I believe 99.9% of [the members of] our community are good, decent people. It’s simply the 0.1% that keeps us in business.’

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