By Phillip Swanson
On Tuesday, Jan. 21, at Purdue University, a 21 year old student was shot and killed in a classroom. On Friday, Jan. 24, a 20-year-old student was shot and killed at South Carolina State University. On Tuesday, Jan. 28, a man was shot on Tennessee State University’s campus. According to an analysis done by the Associated Press, since the start of the 2013-2014 semester, there have been at least 11 school shootings in the nation.
Michael Kasitz, chief of police at APSU, believes APSU is relatively safe from major violent crimes. APSU offers public safety courses to the community and in light of recent events on other campuses, has upped the training offered to both officers and the community by using courses like “Run, Hide, Fight,” a course used by the city of Houston. “That doesn’t mean that we’re immune, however. Our biggest problem on this campus, though, is theft,” Kasitz said.
According to the Annual Security and Fire Safety report released by APSU, in 2012 there were 18 thefts reported on campus.
Kasitz cited the area outside the APSU bookstore as an example of a place where student belongings are vulnerable. “Most students leave their backpacks lying out when they enter the bookstore. This is one of the worst places to do it. It is very easy for someone to rifle through your belongings while you aren’t looking,” Kasitz said. He recommended using the lockers provided outside the bookstore. As for vehicle theft, Kasitz recommended keeping belongings hidden and vehicles secured at all times.
The most recent crime reported at APSU was a local homeless man stealing from vehicles. He was reported by a student and also found on video. Violent crimes are few at APSU, according to Executive Director for Public Relations, Bill Persinger. “I’ve been here over 20 years and there have been few violence-related crimes since I came here,” Persinger said. “The biggest thing is to lock up your stuff.”
According to Kasitz, the same level of patrol is implemented year-round unless a specific area to patrol is requested. There are two to three officers on patrol 24/7. There are over 300 cameras on campus, but they are mainly used as an investigative tool, since all the cameras cannot be monitored.
According to Samuel Segras, a sophomore history major, the blue light call boxes are helpful. “I feel pretty safe,” Segres said. “There’s nowhere on campus you can’t see one of the callboxes.”
There are also access cards at every residence building and most buildings are closed after school hours for added security. Campus Police recommends an individual should never open the door for someone that he or she does not know. Campus Police also offers an escort service 24/7 if one feels unsafe coming to or leaving buildings or a vehicle.
According to Travis Tanguay, a freshman at APSU, Campus Police does an efficient job keeping the community secure. “At school events, Campus Police works in conjunction with the Clarksville Police Department, and it works well,” Tanguay said. “I think it also helps that Clarksville is such a strong military town.” TAS