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University of West Georgia
Public Safety: Annual Report FY05
The Department of Public Safety is responsible for providing police protection, transportation services, parking control and locksmith service to the University Community. The police operation serves the campus 24 hours a day, preventing crime through constant patrol, presenting educational programs and investigating and prosecuting those who commit crimes on campus. The Parking Services Division provides reliable shuttle service to all facilities on campus. The Division is also tasked with providing safe and reliable transportation to student groups traveling off campus to participate in athletic, academic or social events. Parking control personnel, through enforcement of the University’s parking code and maintenance of the traffic and parking signage, keep traffic flowing smoothly through campus. The Lock Shop maintains the security of the campus by maintaining the locks, re-keying doors as necessary, and keeping track of the personnel issued keys to the campus.
Department Statement of Goals / Assessment Process / Assessment Results
Public Safety seeks to provide as safe a campus as possible so as to allow students and faculty to teach, learn and perform research without fear of crime or disturbance. Crime statistics are monitored to assess any change in the amount of crime as well as to determine “hot spots”. Identifying trouble spots allows us to move personnel into the area in order to deter future incidents. The Department seeks to provide through the shuttle service and parking enforcement, the orderly and rapid movement of people throughout the campus. By maximizing the use of existing parking facilities through an efficient transportation system, the University is better able utilize its limited resources to support the academic mission of the University. Parking spaces are inventoried at the beginning of the school year. We then count the available spaces during the peak times. From this we are able to project if additional parking must be provided.
In January of 2005 a customer satisfaction survey was conducted for the Department of Public Safety to measure how the University Community perceives the Department, its personnel and the level of crime on campus. The survey was distributed January 5th through the 19th, 2005 via e-mail to faculty, staff and students. 115 individuals completed the survey with the majority of the respondents being staff 63%) followed by faculty (34%) and students (1%).
The majority of the respondents rated the Department as GOOD TO EXCELLENT (85%) with 10% ranking it as AVERAGE and 7% FAIR TO POOR. The majority had requested some service from Public Safety during Fall 2004 with those requests varying from reporting a crime (14%), sought medical assistance (7%), needed assistance with their vehicle (16%), lock/unlock a door (27%), responded to an alarm (27%), brought a problem to an administrator (35%) or other (38%).
When asked if the Public Safety staff members were courteous when dealing with the respondent, 94% rated the employee as courteous or no opinion was offered. Those who rated the staff as discourteous varied by position with the police officers receiving the least (0%) to administrators with the highest (7%).
In terms of crime, the majority of respondents (69%) perceive the level of crime on campus as remaining the same or decreasing since they came to West Georgia. The remainder feel that crime has increased. However, the majority state that they have not limited their activities on campus nor changed how they move about the campus (85% versus 15%). No one has considered crime at UWG to be significant enough to consider moving to another University.
The survey also questioned how safe respondents’ felt when walking across campus during the day compared to at night. During the day, 93% stated they were not concerned, and 0% stated they were very concerned. However at night, 29% were not concerned while 53% stated they were concerned and 18% very concerned. When asked if during the day they were concerned about being a victim of physical assault, 92% said they were not concerned, while 8% said they were concerned and no one stated they were very concerned. However at night, 41% stated they were not concerned while 42% were concerned and 18% were very concerned.
The comments offered as part of the survey centered around increasing the enforcement of the parking code and increasing the number and visibility of the police officers, especially at night. Several commented that they have not seen an officer at night. There is also a request for more educational programs related to crime prevention and a suggestion for a student patrol, which could offer escorts at night.
It is planned to do an additional survey next year, which will track the views and opinions of the student body, who were under-represented in this survey.
The Department Statement of Outcomes / An Example
From the survey results it appears our greatest concern about crime is in the nighttime hours. It is the perception of those who took part in the survey that the campus is less safe do to the lack of a visible police presence as well as concerns about lighting, specifically on the east side of campus. As a result of these concerns, the following actions have been taken.
First, the east side of campus in the area of the residence halls was resurveyed to ensure the lighting in the area met current, national lighting standards. It was found that the light levels can be improved. Five additional pole lights are being added during the summer break.
Second, the Bike Patrol will be expanded by two additional officers (to a total of four) and they will be provided with ATV’s in addition to the bicycles. These are new positions so there will be a net increase in police presence when those officers join the shift. This unit operates from 7:00 PM to 3:00 AM and traditionally concentrates their patrol on the residence halls. This concept has been reviewed and it was determined the officers would provide a greater service to the campus if their patrol area were expanded to include the academic areas during the evening classes. This could be accomplished without lessening the level of safety in the residence halls due to the increase in the number of officers working, the use of a higher visibility patrol vehicle (the ATV) and the fact that the halls for the most part surround the academic facilities. The Bike Patrol officers will patrol between the buildings, leaving the Evening and Morning Watch officers to handle the parking lots from the marked patrol cars.
Third, the Department is enhancing the number and quality of crime prevention programs offered. New pamphlets and presentations are being created which will be offered in the residence halls and for commuter students. Two officers have been sent to Rape Aggression Defense Classes, which is a nationally recognized method of self -defense for women. These classes will be offered throughout the year to female students and staff. It is our belief that an effective crime prevention program will raise awareness of the potential for crime on campus and teach the community how not to become a victim of crime. An informed public, working with the police, will make for a safer campus.
Health of the Department
Salary continues to be a major issue for Public Safety, especially in the police division. This past year the officers received an increase of $2,500 which was very much appreciated. However, this still places our starting wage for certified personnel $4,000 to $5,000 less than many of the surrounding agencies we compete with for police officers. The cost of sending an officer through the police academy is now over $8,000. It takes a year after the academy before the officer is capable of performing the many tasks expected of him or her without constant supervision. This makes retaining the officers more cost effective than hiring new ones. It is hoped that similar salary increases will be made in subsequent years so that we are able to reach the goal of providing salaries within 95% of what our main competitors are paying.
Eventually there is a need for a professional standards officer who would be tasked with expanding our training program, developing and maintaining policy, and obtaining state certification. The training requirements for the police and shuttle operators are becoming more extensive. Coordinating personnel to attend off campus classes and maintaining records for certification purposes has become a burden to current staff who have other assigned duties. We do not have a fully operational policy manual. Once that manual is completed it is critical that it be maintained in accordance with current state and national standards. This is a very time consuming but necessary duty. Certification for our Department is as important as it is for the academic units. It demonstrates a level of competency by Public Safety and its personnel, which not only adds to the prestige of the University, but is important when dealing with liability issues in court.
We need an additional dispatcher that would work a split between Evening and Morning Watch to ensure two dispatchers are always on during the critical hours. I would also like to provide the additional 416 hours needed to make the part-time dispatcher on the Morning Watch full-time.
There is a growing need for an additional locksmith. The size of the campus is increasing and so are the demands on our sole locksmith. With the new residence halls and Adamson Hall coming on line, he is now responsible for 1600 additional locks and doors.
Our patrol fleet of marked and unmarked units is in poor condition. The average number of miles on our marked units is 89,166 and on the unmarked units is 142,834. We have purchased two new vehicles in 2005 which will improve the situation but there is a further need to replace aging vehicles. We also have a need for an additional administrative vehicle as we now have three investigators and a captain sharing one vehicle. At the north precinct we share one car between two administrators but the vehicle is also used to provide transportation for officers attending the training center in Forsyth and elsewhere within the state.
Public Safety has invested heavily in technology, training, and planning in recent years. We were able to utilize these assets during the hurricane season of 2004. Public Safety monitored each storm and kept the Administration informed of the track and if the storm would effect the campus. During Hurricane Ivan, the only storm that truly threatened the campus, Public Safety tracked the storm from the Atlantic through the Gulf. When it appeared that the campus would be in the path of the storm, the University Command Center was made operational. Staff tested and distributed emergency lighting at predetermined points in the event it was needed after the storm hit. Emergency lightsticks were distributed throughout the residence halls and portable radios issued to the senior Residence Life Staff. Public Safety vehicles were dispersed throughout campus so that in the event roads became impassable, not all of the emergency vehicles would be trapped. Barricades and cones were also dispersed at various locations in case they were needed to block down power lines or other hazards. Staffing was arranged so that half of the Department was available any given point to respond to campus while the other half was rested. Though the storm did not do any significant damage to campus, it was a good test of the procedures that had been developed and the equipment obtained to deal with an emergency.
In the past year Public Safety has provided the following training to its staff.
1) Sent one staff member to Boston for annual training on the records management system. She also attended the Georgia Chiefs of Police Administrative Assistant workshop at Helen GA.
2) Sent one officer to the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators conference in Kansas City Missouri.
3) The Department’s firearms instructors attended the annual meeting of the Georgia Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors.
4) The Director attended the International Chiefs of Police Conference in Los Angeles California. He also attended the winter and summer conferences of the Georgia Chiefs of Police in Atlanta and Savannah respectively. He attended the Governor’s Emergency Management Conference in Savannah as well as the quarterly meetings of the Georgia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
5) All patrol officers received at minimum their 20 hours of required training. Officers have also received certification in the use of laser for speed detection and the breathalyzer.
6) Two investigators attended the sex crimes investigator school at the University of Louisville.
7) Two investigators attended the homicide investigations seminar sponsored by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.
8) Two officers attended the Rape Aggression Defense seminar. This will allow them to teach basic self-defense to female students.
9) One officer attended driving instructor class as well as ATV instructor class.
10) Public Safety sponsored a customer service class with an invited speaker. The class was opened to all faculty and staff throughout campus at no charge.
11) Sent two officers to Taser Instructor Training.
12) Equipped the patrol vehicles with AEDs and trained all certified officers in there use.
Other Awards and Distinctions
Four Dispatchers received State Certification
Four Police Officers obtain State Certification