Written by LaShawn Oglesby, Staff Writer
The new VSUPD Chief Oz Armour and President William McKinney were guest speakers at SGA’s meeting this past Monday.
Armour, who served 45 years in law enforcement, opened the discussion with his visions for the VSUPD by first going over the mission statement for the department.
The mission statement, which can be found on VSU’s website, states: “The mission of the Valdosta State University Police Department is to provide a friendly, safe, and healthy environment for all students, employees, and visitors.”
It is the intent of our administration to provide each and every one of our employees as much guidance and direction as humanly possible to meet this standard of excellence.
“Under my direction I am asking each and every officer member of the police department and public safety to revisit this mission and totally commit to what it says,” said Armour.
Following was a brief safety and security update since Armour’s time as the chief of VSUPD. Foot patrols have been added and there is a plan to provide more crime prevention classes for students and faculty. There will also be more one-on-one contact with the students and VSU officers.
Armour brought a sign and passed it around for everyone to view which said, “If you are reading this then you are blissfully unaware of what is creeping up behind you.” Armour proceeded to tell about a recent event he went through involving a student.
The student had seen a “suspicious man, an older gentleman, wearing a white shirt and tie driving a black truck and he was taking stuff out of his truck into the building” She called the campus police and three police cars were waiting outside the building when Armour came out. One of the sergeants recognized him and let Armour know that a student had called him in because she didn’t recognize him and didn’t know who he was. They then let the student know that it was the new VSUPD Chief.
“I felt so happy that morning,” Armour said. “Here is a young lady that saw something going on on this campus, didn’t know what it was and she had the opportunity to call the police department and I’m going to challenge every one of you to do the same thing. If you see something going on at this campus you need to call the police department and let them come out there and see what’s going on. We can’t be everywhere at one time.
“If I had enough police officers to assign one to each one of you then we would be okay. You would be totally safe I think, but we can’t do that,” Armour said.
Before anyone in attendance was allowed to ask questions Armour listed some safety tips.
• Report strange happenings
• Be more observant
• Call police is you want an escort from one area to another
• Walk with buddies from one location to another
• Stop to talk to officers if you see them
• Stay more aware of what you’re doing and your surroundings
“That’s going to get you hurt if you’re not noticing what you’re doing or where you’re going,” Armour said. “We have students walking out in front of automobiles playing with their telephones. We’re here to help you. We’re here to try to make your campus as safe as possible. You’re going to get a new police chief sometime in July.
“I hope when he gets here that some of the things I have instituted and going to institute into the department is going to go right on with him so that you folks can be a whole lot better off and a whole lot safer than what you are,” Armour said.
Senior senator Briana Copeland asked Armour about the campus alerts in regards to the alert students received Friday night about a robbery that happened near VSU and within that same hour got an “ALL CLEAR” message saying that the information given about the robbery’s location was mistaken, it hadn’t happened near VSU.
“Who puts out the alerts and how do you go about screening them?” Copeland said.
“The alerts were put out for your benefit to start with,” Armour said. “We try to get the alerts out as soon as we can in case you are close to the area the alert has been put out for.”
Armour explained that VSUPD got the information about the robbery and its location from the Valdosta police department. The Valdosta police dispatch came back later announcing that there had been a mistake in the location.
“We put out an all clear alert so you folks wouldn’t have to worry about it and that’s part of trying to keep you in the loop so we can keep you safe,” Armour said.
“I think that as students it is better to be safe than sorry,” SGA president Tyler Barker said.
McKinney took the floor following Armour adding more information to the safety and security discussion before transitioning to the capital campaign.
According to McKinney between the years of 2010 to 2012 VSU spent $175,000 in safety improvements. Since 2012 to present VSU has invested over $2 million. These improvements brought more lighting, cameras and traffic.
“One incident is too many,” McKinney said. “You cannot live and learn effectively in a community like this if you are constantly worried about your safety.”