Florida School Shooting Opens Discussions of Campus Safety

Florida School Shooting Opens Discussions of Campus Safety

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By Jada Butler
News Editor

The offie of public safety has responded to the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with tightened security plans for the campus. There have been no incidents of shootings on campus, although some students and professors have raised concerns about safety procedures.

Photo by Jada Butler
Michael Fevola, director of public safety

Alexa Kaplan, a junior business marketing major and commuter and business manager of The Pioneer, lost a relative in the school shooting in Florida. -“This particular shooting hit me a little harder emotionally,” she said. “I became a lot angrier and eager for a change in our society.”

Kaplan, who transferred to Post from Syracuse, wants the open campus policy at Post to be monitored thoroughly. “When I was at Syracuse, there were a bunch of security booths scattered at main points and entrances on campus who would stop people in cars and ask to see their student or faculty ID. I think we should do that here,” she said.

SUNY Old Westbury also has a security booth at its entrance. All visitors to the campus must “report first to the University Police Department to obtain a visitor parking pass,” according to the university website, oldwestbury.edu/police/parking

Security booths, or guard posts, are located at the west gate before the library. Michael Fevola, director of the office of public safety, said the booth, which is not covered every day, is secondary to campus patrol and response actions. Many commuter students have said they do not see a guard there in the mornings.

“The officer that is there goes when he is available, usually during the morning rush,” Fevola said. The officer is assigned Monday through Thursday, unless he is responding to a call, according to Fevola.

Fevola said an open campus is dictated by the type of community  a campus is in. “Brooklyn campus is closed, because that’s the way the city is. Here [on Long Island], campuses want to be a part of the community we are in,” he said. Violence and crimes are less likely to occur at Post, according to Fevola, who stated that Brookville has a “much lower average in crimes than the national average.” The U.S. national average crime rate is 278.8 percent, while Brookville is at 67.3 percent, according to City-Data.com collective data of murders, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries, thefts, auto thefts and arson in the United States.

Last semester, there was a reported break-in in the South Residence Hall, and several computers were stolen from the labs in Humanities by a local thief – who was caught and arrested – according to the university’s crime log records and reported by local news.

“The overwhelming issue we have had with people that are not part of our campus community and come on campus are property crimes, not against people or any type of violence,” Fevola said. To combat suspicious activity and/or persons, students and faculty are expected to follow the “see something, say something” protocol by reporting the issue to Public Safety at 516-299-2222.

Depending on the severity, one or more officers are dispatched to respond to the call. “We encourage people to call in suspicious people, but leave a description, what the person is doing [and] a call back number to get back in touch,” Fevola said.

An adjunct professor in the English department expressed concern for security on campus grounds after the high school shooting in Florida. “We aren’t even able to lock our doors [in Humanities]. What is the safety plan we have for this school – there’s nothing,” she said.

Public Safety officers began listing classrooms with doors that can be locked from the inside and which ones cannot. “We are looking at different ways to be able to secure classroom doors from the inside in the event of a lockdown,” Fevola said. These locks must be compliant with re marshal codes; certain types of deadbolts would not be allowed.

Along with door locks, additional cameras have been added to Humanities, and the Fine Arts building will receive more in the next week, according to Fevola. “All cameras on campus are 24/7, and the vast majority of them operate on motion, that’s to save space. We are constantly adding new cameras to different areas strategically,” Fevola said.

Fevola said that the most important thing to do is educate the campus community on active-shooter protocols. “In the event of an incident including an active shooter, Public Safety has protocols in place and the ability to immediately alert the entire campus community via a mass text/email blast with specific advisements and instructions,” Fevola said in the Nov. 29 article “LIU Post Campus Shooting Guidelines” published in The Pioneer. The guidelines are at http://liu.edu/cwpost/Public-safety. Next week, a Public Safety app detailing the “see something, say something” and “run/hide/ ght” protocols among others will be available for students to download on both Apple and Android devices.

Fevola gives this advice: be aware of your surroundings. “When leaving the academic buildings, take different exits, get familiar with the building,” he said. “We are creatures of habit. When we leave, we go down ‘this’ stairwell because it’s the closest one. If you’re not in a hurry one day, explore the building, go out a different way.” Knowing your surroundings could be valuable in an emergency.

At the request of members from the Student Government Association (SGA), Fevola has set up a pilot program in Brookville residence hall to allow student access to side doors. The program authorizes Brookville Hall residents with ID to open side and rear doors. Residence halls only have cameras in the lobbies, according to Fevola, which is why entrance to the side doors is not allowed. “We want to be able to see on the camera who’s coming in, especially if the guard that is there had any type of issue, or the RA or desk attendant,” he said.

They are exploring the possibility of side/rear door access. Cameras are already put in place at Brookville side doors to monitor who is walking in and out. SGA wants to prove that with side door access, people won’t prop the doors, which is a common security risk in residence halls. “Students don’t always want to walk all the way around the buildings to get inside,” Fevola said. “If we get good feedback, we will continue that for other dorms.”

Editor’s Note: Alexa Kaplan, mentioned in this article, is the Business Manager for The Pioneer.

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