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Seattle University


Safety First

Written by Mike Thee
March 12, 2013

At an open forum on Monday, university leaders reviewed last week's incident at the law school and provided updates on a number of measures that have been underway in recent months to enhance the safety and security of SU's campus.

As he wrote in an e-mail to campus last week, President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., began the forum by saying, "There is no higher priority than the safety of our students, faculty and staff."

Executive Vice President Tim Leary next spoke about how an urban university like SU is always focused on how best to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff, and maintain an open and welcoming campus.

Interim Executive Director of Public Safety Randy Carroll then provided an overview of the March 6 incident in which an individual not affiliated with the university disrupted a law school classroom. Law Professor Madeline Kass immediately contacted the Department of Public Safety (DPS), and officers arrived on the scene in less than two minutes. They assessed the situation and closely monitored the individual's movements until Seattle Police arrived. Within 10 minutes of the call being made, the individual was taken into custody by police.

Leary and Carroll commended the officers for their rapid response and for following policies and procedures.

While last Wednesday's incident provided the impetus for the forum, there was as much if not more news to share on the big picture of how SU is strengthening its campus safety operations. Carroll, Leary and Vice President for Student Development Jake Diaz outlined many of these, including:

  • Hiring a permanent director, who is expected to be named in the coming months, as well as eight additional public safety personnel, including four additional uniformed officers to increase the field presence of DPS, and four staff for the communications center to handle dispatching
  • Revamped emergency notification procedures, including the e2Campus text messaging system and timely e-mail notifications
  • Updated DPS's policies and procedures and implemented new training and professional development for Public Safety officers and staff
  • Reorganizing the department to better align with the needs of the university
  • Upgrading the camera system on campus, which is a key early-warning tool for dispatchers in the communications center

These initiatives were born out of last fall's independent review of campus safety and security by the firm Margolis Healy & Associates that was an initiated by the university. Leary called the firm "probably the foremost authority on public safety on college campuses."

Leary and Carroll also encouraged students, faculty and staff to support the university's ongoing effort to enhance campus safety by reporting problematic individuals and situations, just as Professor Kass did last week, and sharing input on possible improvements that can be made. A few attendees of the forum availed themselves of that invitation, offering some suggestions that were gratefully received by the university's leadership.

To learn more about campus safety and security and to find out how you can receive emergency text messages, visit Department of Public Safety.