A Network of Possibilities

Christina Kelso

In a daily race, students and faculty shuffle across, around, inside and out of their respective college campus’ with each individual pushing forward in their routine. Within this flurry of crisscrossing paths, there must be a sense of security to ensure they make their way through safely. For Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida, two communities that are separated only by a short fifteen-minute drive down 9A, this is a process that inevitably interweaves.

Due to the fact the two campuses are so close, whether with transients or visitors, the schools are frequently intermingling. Because of this, cooperation in crime prevention and solutions between the branches of security is beneficial.

“If some information we received were to adversely affect JU, Edwards Waters, or another college in the area, we would communicate it to them.” said Lieutenant Tammy Oliver of the UNF University Police Force.

Springing from this, Gordon Bass, the recently introduced director of campus security for JU, provides a new potential for further communication. Retired from the Jacksonville Sherriff’s office, he intends to use his connections to build a more allied environment.

“Both the UNF Chief of Police, John Dean and the Assistant Chief, Mark Richardson, are retired JSO officers and good friends of mine,” said Bass.  He hopes to have Dean, who has had years of experience on a campus setting, come to JU to take a tour of the campus with him so that they may exchange ideas to improve school security.

In this same manner, Bass also provides excellent communication with JSO.  Regular communication with the sheriff’s office alerts JU security members if incidents are occurring in the area outside of campus. Alongside this, at least five nights out of the week JSO deputies patrol the campus to add additional safety.

In light of this spirit of communication, Jacksonville Sherriff Officers will be holding a self-defense class for students on Nov 2, the location of which has yet to be announced. This was a product of the Sheriffs Advisory Council, a program that, through monthly meetings, encourages students, faculty and parents to attend and voice any security concerns.

“Safety and security on a campus style setting is everybody’s business,” said Bass. “As long as everybody, students, faculty, security, and guests, understand that it is their role, if they see any crime happening, to report it. That ensures everyone’s safety”

On both the Jacksonville University and UNF campuses, students should be aware of the safety systems they provide.

For UNF, although it is a public institution and has an open campus, state police can be seen at all hours on bicycles, Segways and in cars. Housing officials patrol the dorms and offer free personal protection and self-defense classes for students.

At JU, the security office offers an entirely open door policy. Students can, if they feel the least bit unsafe, call for an escort to walk them to their car, dorm, or where ever else they need to be. At six o clock every night, all gates other than the main entrance are closed and the welcome center ID’s each car that attempts to come onto the grounds.

The JU office also offers Operation ID, where they will engrave identifying marks onto student’s personal property, so that if it is stolen, the recovery process will be easier. For more information, students can reference the 2011 Annual Security Report, the newest edition of which is awaiting approval and will be available next week.

“Our crime statistics are something to be proud of,” said Bass. Statistics, posted by both by Campus Security as well as the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office showed a low crime rate for both schools in the most recent (2008-2010) edition. At Jacksonville University, there showed no major offenses in recent years.

With a strong foundation of law enforcement already in place beneath the feet of both institutions, building a network holds capabilities for an even more iron-clad future.