|Campus Safety Continues to be a Priority at the U of M
For release: August 15, 2007
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Although state law enforcement statistics have long shown the University of Memphis campus to be one of the safest in Tennessee, two new safeguards will be introduced this fall.
The most visible will be the outdoor warning system located strategically across the main campus and on the Park Avenue campus. The large speakers, fastened to poles that are to be erected this week, can emit alarm sirens or voice messages to warn the campuses of impending dangers. For severe weather warnings, they will augment the siren system already employed by Shelby County. For emergencies limited to the University campus, they will be one of several ways of notifying people immediately, including those who are on the grounds of the campus.
The other newly implemented system is TigerText, a text-messaging system that will alert mobile phone users of emergency situations at the University or any major disruptions in the normal activities of the University, such as closings caused by winter weather. Students, faculty, and staff can sign up for the service voluntarily; they will be encouraged to do so because of the speed with which text messaging will enable them to receive emergency information from University authorities.
Although the two initiatives follow last spring’s shootings at Virginia Tech, their implementation at the University of Memphis had begun months earlier, as a result of the work of the University’s Crisis Management Team. That group, in existence since 2003 and headed by Bruce Harber, director of University Police Services, has anticipated, studied, and addressed safety and security issues at the University. The team meets monthly and uses “table top” exercises to test its plans.
The emergency warning systems being put into place this summer and fall are in addition to a number of techniques that have been used and will continue to be used, such as all-campus emails, telephone “trees,” and announcements from University Police cars’ loudspeakers.
The other aspect of safety and security at the University involves personal safety. The campus has an excellent personal safety record partly because of the 30-officer police force that patrols the campus 24 hours a day. The U of M force is highly trained and is a full-service police agency for the University, just as the police department for any municipality.
Students also have access to Tiger Patrol, an official University escort program staffed by students employed by the University Police Department or by University police officers. Students, faculty or staff can call Tiger Patrol escorts to accompany them after dark between buildings on campus or to and from their parked cars.
At the beginning of each semester University Police host information sessions for students in the residence halls, informing them of the University’s security measures that are in place and reminding them of the ways they can help maintain their own personal safety, such as walking in groups, pre-programming the U of M police dispatcher’s number into their mobile phone speed-dial, always being aware of their surroundings, and reporting anything suspicious that they may see on campus.
During the year, Police Services hosts other information sessions, at which they discuss any safety or security issues that have arisen and how they are being handled by the University and the police.
Other security measures in place at the U of M include more than 300 Web cameras placed outdoors and in buildings around campus and emergency phones placed strategically around campus. When the phones are picked up, they ring automatically and directly at the University Police dispatcher’s desk. The cameras provide round-the-clock surveillance should their recorded images be needed.
For more information about safety and security on the University of Memphis campus, contact Bruce Harber, director of University Police Services, at 901/678-3848.
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