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Arkansas Tech Continues Focus on Safety

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With final exams right around the corner and several late work nights ahead for faculty and students, Arkansas Tech University is reinforcing campus safety resources. “Arkansas Tech University takes its responsibility to provide for the safety of our students, faculty and staff very seriously,” said Susie Nicholson, assistant to the president for university relations. “The safety of our campus community is our No. 1 priority. Our track record in that area is good, but there is always room for improvement. We believe that the security measures already in place combined with the enhancements that we are currently implementing will forward our long-held reputation as a safe place to study and work.” The university is required by law to report all incidents of crime on campus to the federal government. This information is available to the public on the Arkansas Tech Public Safety Web site. With recent concerns about assaults on campus, it is important to note that during the last five years there have been just seven such incidents on the Russellville campus --- one each in 2007, 2008, 2010, and two each in 2009 and 2011. Dr. Gary Biller, vice president for student services at Arkansas Tech, reported that the following security measures have been taken in recent weeks:

• Increased the number of officers on patrol during the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift from three to five --- two of those officers in squad cars and three on foot
• Coordinated efforts to ensure that all buildings are locked in a timely fashion when the final evening classes are over
• Continuation of a sexual assault awareness program offered by male and female officers from the Arkansas Tech Office of Public Safety, including a special program presented by Ms. Micki Freeman to female students in Caraway Residence Hall on April 18
• Initiated a hiring process that will result in two additional campus police officers starting this summer --- this in a year of no increase in state funding
• Installing additional security cameras on campus, continuing an initiative to provide video surveillance as a safety measure that is entering its third year
• Improving safety for pedestrians with the installation of security gates near McEver Hall and the Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center --- purchase approved by trustees during regularly scheduled April board meeting
• Conducting a complete security audit over the summer to identify any other areas that could be improved, including additional campus lighting

The steps listed above are in addition to an already thorough campus security effort at Arkansas Tech:

• All residence halls are key card controlled and the doors to those facilities remain locked 24 hours a day
• Campus police officers are part of the local 911 call system so that emergency calls go directly to them
• Cooperative agreement with Russellville Police Department for aid in securing the area following an incident and the exchange of information during an investigation
• Resources of the Arkansas State Police are available to the university
• Arkansas Tech officers are available 24 hours a day
• Arkansas Tech officers are available to provide safety escorts to students, faculty and staff anywhere on campus 24 hours a day
• The university has an emergency text messaging system to warn students, faculty and staff of situations as needed
• The university issues campus safety warnings via e-mail as needed
• The campus community is notified in a timely fashion of specific incidents that present a threat

“If we can stress two points to our students, faculty and staff concerning safety on campus, they would be walk with a friend and utilize the services offered by our Department of Public Safety,” said Nicholson. “There is always safety in numbers, and especially late at night we encourage our students to take the extra precaution of walking with a friend. The phone number for our Department of Public Safety is (479) 968-0222, and we hope that all of our students, faculty and staff will save that number in their mobile devices so that they can have it should they ever need assistance from our dedicated and trained officers. We have offered a public safety escort service on our campus for 15 years, and we want our students, faculty and staff to know that service is available for their protection and peace of mind.”

The photo above shows an Arkansas Tech Public Safety officer observing monitors that display what security cameras across campus are capturing at any given moment.