By Maria Brasco
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – The report released on Oct. 12 of an assault on a student at the Blackwood campus has left students questioning their safety. How safe is the campus really?
The Public Safety Department takes pride in its positive actions at CCC. It starts with the qualified staff. All staff members are required to have at least the Security Officer Registration Act (SORA) certification. They are trained in areas such as communications and emergency response, theft prevention, ethics and professional conduct, first aid and CPR, and homeland security. CCC officers are briefed monthly on fire safety. They have to serve 666 hours of training, says Assistant Director of Public Safety Steve Hetherington. Many public safety officers are retired police officers and trained officials. Officers are evaluated yearly to ensure their skills are at a professional level.
“I can’t say enough about our department,” says Hetherington, who has been with the campus safety department for more than 10 years. The retired Philadelphia police officer says in the past five to six years the overall safety precautions of the campus have evolved greatly. The lighting on campus is brighter at night and is still being altered with the ongoing construction. Security officers survey the property regularly to make notes on where new posts should be added.
The Campus Security Act requires all colleges and universities to have a public log of all crimes on or around campus released the first of every October. In the last year, there was one burglary, two vehicle thefts, and one drug abuse violation.
“CCC is proud of the low incidents of crime on our campuses,” says Capt. John Schuck of the Department of Safety, “however, Public Safety alone cannot take all of the credit. It is vitally important that we receive information from students, faculty, and staff in order to prevent and deter crime from occurring.”
Be aware of your surroundings and use your intuition. If you sense something is wrong, call 856-374-5089, Public Safety’s direct line. There are Red Phones (Blue Phones) strategically placed around campus, inside and out. Press the button and a public safety officer will be there in less than a minute. Hetherington suggests you call campus security before 911 because the police’s response rate is three to five minutes, versus campus security being 30 seconds to a minute. The Red Phones and direct phone line are available for students 24/7, every day of the year. An escort to your car is always available through the campus safety department. Call the direct line at any time and an officer will escort you to your car within minutes.
“Public Safety does all that is possible to keep our college community safe, but we also believe that each student must take personal responsibility for their own safety,” Schuck states.