Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Keeping Our Campus Safe


by Devese Ursery
Photos by Sarah Hayes

The outside of Campus Police's office
on Florissant Valley's campus.
            Florissant Valley leaders are making sure that they remain proactive in keeping their campus and its community safe and secure.
            All over America there has been an epidemic of school/campus shootings. Looking back only two years to February 5, 2010, there has been at least 18 school/campus shootings. This is a phenomenon that seems to picking up steam, in January of the new year there has been eight school or campus shootings, with the latest one occurring less than two weeks ago at Prince Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia on January 28.
            “Unfortunately, there has been a number of incidents on college campuses and there have been incidents in schools, and every single time one of those things happens, we step back for a few minutes to think about, what if that happened here? How would we share information,” said Marcia Pfeiffer, president of the STLCC-Florissant Valley campus.
            Florissant Valley administrators have been aggressively reviewing training methods to better help faculty and staff with assessing and responding to emergency situations. The administration has set up a series of exercises called “table-top” exercises, where the faculty and staff are brought together to go over different scenarios and incidents that were put in play for them to respond to. A lot of work and effort has been done on campus to ensure the safety and security of its entire community.
On top of the Administration Building is a P.A. system to alert the campus of any proceeding dangers. In every building on campus information is posted on how to respond to emergency situation of all types. Florissant Valley has also set up emergency messages that will go out on every staff member’s computer terminal, so if a problem is identified on campus an emergency alert will be sent to every computer. Emergency phones were placed in the classrooms and deadbolt locks were placed on the doors of the classrooms that lock from the inside. In every building are maps showing people how to evacuate the buildings in case of an emergency and where the safe zones are inside and outside of the buildings. Kendra Tolson, coordinator of campus and community relations and Chief Sandra Turner, campus police are the two main people to get information from, in case of an emergency.
One of the vehicles Campus Police uses to patrol the Florissant Valley campus.
“We have been working very hard on campus to ensure that our faculty and staff know how to direct our students into the safest environment, no matter what the situation is,” said Pfeiffer. Last year, an armed intruder drill was conducted on campus with faculty and staff, and District Chief Stewart is giving consideration as to how the same type of drill can be preformed to involve the students.
Although the job of the Campus Police is to make sure that the campus is safe and secure, their primary responsibility is to develop and engage in a positive and proactive relationship with students, faculty and staff so that they feel comfortable enough to alert them of any suspicious activity. The Campus Police are continuously out in full force, in and around campus making their presence known. The Campus Police and other authorized personnel are the only ones authorized to carry a gun on campus. They are authorized by the governing body of the school, and the Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 571. The Campus Police goes through specific training to assess specific threats, how to communicate with those threats and to help faculty and staff respond to emergency situations properly. The CPD has a special unit called CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) where officers go through a 40-hour training program at the police academy. There are currently four officers that have that special training. They go in and identify the situation, whether it’s a mental situation or whatever and handle it accordingly.
“…First and foremost, campus safety and security is my top concern every single day and we are very fortunate that we have a campus police agency that is looking out for campus security,” said Pfeiffer.
Not only does Florissant Valley have an extraordinary counseling staff to assist in dealing with someone who may be mentally unstable or who is simply stressed out the to point of not being able to deal, but they also offer a program called Mental Health First Aid that is taught on campus by the counseling staff. It is designed to help someone who is not trained in counseling identify another individual that may be in crisis and need help. Students, faculty and staff have not only taken the course, individuals out in the community have taken it as well. 
For more information about the Mental Health program contact Dr. Joe Worth at jworth@stlcc.edu  or Troy Hansen at thansen@stlcc.edu. You can reach the Florissant Valley Campus Police by calling 314-513-4300. For the locations of the Emergency Call Boxes on campus go to the Florissant Valley home page and click on the Safety Procedures tab.      

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