Communication Studies Senator Abagael McCauley presented an initiative to the Student Government Association that she hopes will be the first step in improving student safety on campus.
Her strategy, presented Tuesday, called for an enhancement of security measures including a more active phone and email notification system. McCauley’s statement also asked for an Emerson College Police Department officer to accompany Securitas officers in residence halls after 11 p.m. and for ECPD to host more instructional safety classes.
McCauley said the current emergency alert system, ConnectEd, should be put to use more often to warn students if there is ever a threat to security on campus. ConnectEd sends emergency messages to students and faculty through emails, text messages, and phone calls.
“I feel it is the right of the student to know what is happening on campus and if his or her safety on campus is at risk,” the sophomore marketing communication and political communication double major said in an email interview. “Using the notification system during emergency situations can help to ensure that students respond appropriately.”
She said ECPD should have sent out a warning via ConnectEd when an intruder entered the Little Building at on Oct. 10. David Maglio, 32, convinced Securitas officers that he was an Emerson employee and to let him into the dormitory. He attempted to steal a laptop and cell phones, according to ECPD Chief Robert Smith.
Smith said in an interview about the SGA safety initiative that he did not send out an alert because ECPD apprehended the intruder within a few minutes after being called, and no students were in danger.
Maglio entered the residence hall at 6:22 a.m. and was arrested at 9:15 a.m., according to Smith and a Boston Police report.
“If we overuse [the notification system], it diminishes the impact,” Smith said.
According to the October 2012 Annual Clery Compliance Report, ECPD has two types of warnings that they are required to send students: A timely warning is sent after a pattern of crimes is detected, and an emergency notification warns of an urgent danger.
“If it is an immediate threat, we will blast out a message,” Smith said.
The initiative from McCauley also called for an ECPD officer to work at the residence hall security desks with Securitas officers at night. Securitas officers station the desks from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
McCauley said Securitas officers are not allowed to respond to emergencies themselves; they must call ECPD or Boston Police. She said having ECPD officers stationed with Securitas employees would eliminate the time to call and respond.
“As a volunteer firefighter, one of the biggest things stressed in my department is the influence of response time on an emergency situation,” McCauley said.
Smith said that ECPD cannot accommodate that request, because he does not have a large enough staff.
“It is difficult to staff at that level, and we are not that big of a department,” Smith said. “Securitas does a good job, despite recent issues.”
Smith also said because the campus is not large, it does not take long to respond to an emergency situation.
However, Smith agreed that ECPD should host more safety education programs. He said he still needs to discover what type of classes students want.
Smith and the SGA both agreed, in separate interviews, to discuss the initiative in the coming weeks.
“Safety is a community effort,” McCauley said. “If this initiative is passed and implemented, it will help Emerson College grow as a community and become safer by educating the community members.”