November 10, 2010
Oklahoma Baptist University Police gives students a new outlook on campus safety.
Oklahoma Baptist University Police is a working department that has only been active for a few years. OBU Police serves OBU students, faculty and some of the surrounding community.
Since established in 2009, they strive to keep university grounds and the surrounding area safe.
These officers do more than write parking tickets. The officers sometimes give security escorts to students on campus and keep the peace at campus sporting events and campus activities such as homecoming.
The value of establishing a police department provides enhanced public safety and the life quality of the OBU community, said Chief of OBU Police David Shannon.
Situations that merit police action involving students are often handled in accordance between Shannon and Bobby Canty, the dean of students.
Shannon and Canty work together to resolve situations involving students on campus. Problems that require campus police involvement are things such as vehicular accidents and threats to students or faculty.
The police department responds to all emergencies on campus and works with Shawnee Police to resolve situations. Situations can range from suspicious persons on campus to a fire alarm going off. “We established a mutual agreement with the city of Shawnee when we established our police department,” said Shannon.
There were a few steps required for campus security to make the transition to campus police.
“There is an application process that goes through the Council of Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET),” said Shannon.
“Once approved and entered into the computer, we are an established police department.”
The officers who work in OBU’s police department are CLEET certified and are required at least 25 hours of certification per year to be a security officer.
There are seven security officers, five resident facility officers (RFOs), and three full-time dispatchers. Students also help out on weekends in the dispatch office and as RFOs.
“We have students that work the weekends as RFOs and the majority of them have done a fantastic job of what we ask them to do and what they’re trained to do,” said Shannon.
OBU police can be contacted at any time by dialing extension 6000 on any campus phone or 878-6000.
“We presently have dispatch, in our department, working 24 hours seven days a week,” said Shannon.
Another way campus police is trying to be more efficient is by having safe boxes installed on campus.
Safe boxes are free-standing boxes that have a button that can be pushed that notifies the police that someone needs help in that area.
We try to notify the students about them, especially new students coming in as freshmen, said Shannon.
Officers can help students with changing a flat tire, jumping their car battery or can take them to get fuel if they’ve run out.
Officers also provide security escorts for students in the evening.
“We do provide safety escorts. If a student is at a building, say Ford, after hours and they need to walk back to their dorm; time got away from them. “Give us a call,” said Shannon, “Our officers will come over and escort you back to the building.”
OBU officers respond to other scenarios that aren’t emergencies. OBU sponsored events are patrolled by campus police and sometimes security is heightened as a preventative measure.
With homecoming events coming up security will be tightened, especially since it is the centennial said Shannon.
“We just want to make sure we have the personnel here to respond in case something happens,” said Shannon.
Most of the officers are trained in CPR and first aid so even with the hospital close the campus officers are well qualified to handle just about any situation.
Few emergency situations happen on campus. Most times when something happens it does not include OBU students, said Shannon.
“Because its an open campus you’ve got people that just take a short-cut through. We want those people called in on so we can check them out, find out definitely what they’re doing here. We’re not just going to assume that they’re passing through,” states Shannon.
Although it isn’t their main priority, campus officers write more tickets for parking violations than anything.
“Visitors aren’t required to pay the fines. If you’re a student, faculty or staff you are held to the same guidelines. If you have an infraction and you’re written a citation, you pay the same fine a student would,” said Shannon.
Any tickets written by OBU officers can be appealed through the cashier’s office.
Appeals must be filed within five days of receiving the citation.
“Basically a student, faculty or staff can file an appeal. If the appeal is approved then there’s no fine; if its denied then their other alternative would be to file an appeal with the appeals board,” said Shannon.
There is no quota for tickets.
Money collected from the citations goes back into OBU’s general fund said Shannon. “It doesn’t go into a police fund.”
Money is redistributed throughout the university per the administrators.
But through this redistribution some of the money goes back to police department for the training of officers and upkeep of the equipment, said Shannon.
With guidelines set in place to provide safety and security for the campus; OBU students can rely on their campus police officers.
“Our officers will do anything they can, anything they’re allowed to do, to help people,” said Shannon.
The officers ultimate goal is to provide service to the community, said Shannon.
“It kind of gets old that the students only thought of us is that we’re the ones that work in that building over there. We’re the ones that give tickets.”