Safety is No. 1

The start of another academic year finds Southern Arkansas University Police Department steadily focused on emergency preparedness and safety around the campus community. As the residence halls, classrooms and campus sidewalks fill up with the noise of student life, the UPD works with Student Life to develop initiatives and present educational programs targeted for personal emergency preparedness and safety.

SAU Police Chief Eric Plummer, whose experience and dedication to continued law enforcement training has earned him the distinction of Senior Chief of Police from the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training, has incorporated measures and programs on campus and adopted models that educate and empower individuals to avoid falling victim to crime.

“During the past couple of years, we have installed outdoor surveillance cameras and added a new officer – thanks to a public safety fee enacted by the Student Government Association (SGA),” said Plummer. “The Physical Plant has continually added lighting to areas previously identified as areas of concern and will continue with this lighting initiative as the university grows.

Plummer commends the efforts of the SGA in their efforts to take on safety concerns.

“By choosing to adopt a public safety fee, the SGA has enabled the university to hire an additional police officer and to start an outdoor campus surveillance network,” he said. “Every effort to help makes a difference.”

The department has also developed a new safety initiative called the informative Campus Awareness Network or iCAN in order to encourage all members of the community to be more aware of their surroundings and to report abnormal or suspicious behaviors.

To be launched this year, iCAN provides an anonymous messaging system that will allow individuals to text information to police without being identified. Concerned citizens can send information or tips via text message to 67283, containing the word “SAUTIP,” followed by a space and then the message. UPD hopes the program will provide an outlet for students and community members to provide feedback and information about crimes or prevention.

Plummer said he is hopeful the department’s efforts will encourage students, faculty and staff to become more aware of their surroundings. It’s another step toward his mission to provide a safe and secure living, learning and working environment.

“Education is vital to create a sense of awareness and to change behaviors, which can be detrimental not only to a community member, but the institution as a whole,” said Plummer. “Along with education, the most important factor of personal safety is awareness and taking personal responsibility for your surroundings.”

Another educational initiative – “Policing through Practical Partnerships” (PPP) allows the community to partner with police and is geared toward changing public perceptions of police officers from caretakers to partners in safety. The goal of the initiative is to strengthen, educate and empower individuals to take on some responsibility in keeping themselves and their property safe.

SAU PD also promotes emergency preparedness with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Resolve to be Ready campaign. The program encourages individuals, families, businesses and communities to take action and prepare for emergencies in four important steps:
Be informed. Know the hazards and risks in your area.
Make a family emergency plan, so you know where to go and how to communicate and find your loved ones if a disaster hit.
Build an emergency supply kit – both at home and in the car – that includes water, food and first aid supplies to help you survive if you lose power or get stranded in your car. This is especially important in icy conditions.
Get involved – Find out how you can promote preparedness in your community.

“Being prepared for an emergency of any magnitude is a very important part of keeping safe,” said Plummer. “Emergencies can range from inconvenience to devastation, but you can resolve not to be a victim of an emergency or disaster and take steps to minimize the impact of emergencies.”

SAU Police welcome campus community members to join them in training programs and take the pledge to prepare during the National Preparedness Month (September).

For service, call (870) 235-4100. To learn more about programs, educational opportunities and services provided on campus by the SAU PD, visit www.saumag.edu/police/.