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As the end of national campus safety awareness month comes to a close, VSU students have some concerns about the University Police’s ability to protect students around campus.
The VSU police is a normal police department just like city, county and state organizations, according to Campus Police Chief Charles Alan Rowe. On campus, there are 26 full-time officers on duty with at least five officers on duty around the clock. During the daytime hours, when the administrative staff is on campus, there are a few more officers.
“VSU is one of the safer campuses that you will find in the University System,” Rowe said. “We lead the system in emergency phones. We’re up there as a forerunner in cameras.”
There are over 600 cameras throughout campus, according to Rowe.
“Cameras are an ongoing project the administration has absolutely deemed a top priority for funding,” he said.
Rowe said on average there’s a 96-hour turnaround to have cameras fixed. If a camera is not working, IT is immediately notified. Currently, there are no on-campus cameras down. The cameras are constantly upgraded so there aren’t many maintenance issues to be fixed, he said.
Some students believe that there are cameras in certain areas don’t work or are neglected.
“I feel safe for the most part,” Hunter Pope, senior art and psychology major, said. “I haven’t felt unsafe. I feel like the university center is forgotten.”
In conjunction with using cameras on campus, University Police also use emergency phones to help students stay safe.
There are 148 emergency phones on campus. The phones are checked weekly by patrol to make sure they are functional.
To keep student, faculty and staff up-to-date with crimes committed around campus the University Police issues crime alerts, through text message, email and phone call, to those who register their phone numbers through the University’s Banner system. These alerts allow police to notify the community of the incident and how to protect themselves.
According to the American Police Beat, the average response time for an officer to arrive at an emergency scene is 10 minutes, which is at least three times longer than VSU university police.
“Generally speaking, we have at least one officer on foot patrol on main campus at all times which really limits our response time to a total of about three minutes depending on call,” Rowe said. “Obviously, many, many times its quicker than that. But it is rarely ever and excess of three minutes.”
In light of recent cases of police brutality around the United States, VSU’s University Police have other means to take down a potential suspect.
“We are 100% capable of using less lethal means,” Rowe said. “Every one of our officers is issued a fire arm, with pepper spray, batons, and tasers as intermediate weapons. We absolutely want to make sure we have the capability to use the least amount of force that we can.”
Statistically, rape and sexual assaults on campus are not generally reported by either women or men. In Georgia, rape is defined under O.C.G.A. § 16‐6‐1 as a “male having carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Carnal knowledge in rape occurs when there is any penetration of the female sex organs by the male sex organs.”
Rowe doesn’t agree with the legal definition of rape.
“A sexual assault is a sexual assault, period (whether it being male or female),” Rowe said. Each complaint of sexual assault is thoroughly investigated by University Police, he said.
In recent years, there haven’t been many reported sexual assaults on campus. Next week, the 2016 Clery Report will be released, which will have the full statistics on sexual assaults of 2015.
For the most part, students said they generally feel safe at VSU.
“It’s [campus safety] pretty good,” Josh Jayroe, freshman business management major, said. As long as my car isn’t stolen we’re good.”