Ga. College Security Initiative Protects Campus, City
The school’s security department protects students by also policing the community.
A college’s security program in Savannah, Georgia aims to protect students by helping keep the city safe as well as the campus.
The Savannah College of Art and Design launched a Community Patrol Officer initiative Jan. 4 to create a safer community, according to Savannah Now.
“SCAD is intertwined with the city,” SCAD Vice President for University Safety John Bukovich says. “We have dorms and buildings all over the city. If we are able to make our campus safer, then we make Savannah safer.”
The school’s campus includes residence halls and buildings spread across Savannah’s downtown and midtown areas.
The community policing program involves officers conducting nighttime patrols of the city in marked cars, looking out for suspicious behavior or people in need, whether those people are students or not.
“If they see anybody getting out of their car and walking to their house, we want them to stop, and make sure that person gets in OK,” Bukovich says.
Bukovich adds that the community patrols have led to around 1,000 officer engagements with the community since they began.
The program also includes a student escort service, which will allow students to request rides from SCAD buildings back to their homes in different areas of the city. A partnership with ride-sharing service Uber allows the department to order students a ride if they’re own officers would take more than 30 minutes.
The program complements a video surveillance system that features almost 700 cameras in different areas of the city. The cameras are monitored 24/7 by security officers in the department’s Safety and Security Office.
The cameras are concentrated around SCAD buildings. If an officer sees a crime or suspect, they can lock down any door in any SCAD building immediately.
All SCAD buildings also use a card system for access control that allows officers to track card activity and revoke card access remotely.
Additionally, the campus uses the ShotSpotter gunshot tracking system, with microphones around the city that can detect gunshots and triangulate their location.
Of course, a close partnership with the Savannah Police Department is crucial. The city police also use the gunshot tracking system, and any camera footage that might help Savannah police investigations is happily shared.
Bukovich also meets regularly with the Savannah-Chatham police precinct captains and Chief Joseph Lumpkin to make sure the departments are coordinating their public safety efforts.
“For us, the bottom line is that [College President Paula Wallace] and SCAD have invested a lot into our security,” Bukovich says. “It’s not just a concern to her that our campus is secure but also the community. If we can make our campus safer, Savannah will be safer.”