Rowan Cabarrus Community College dropping law enforcement for private security www.privateofficer.com
SALISBURY NC Nov 10 2011 – Is Rowan Cabarrus Community College about to drop sworn law enforcement officers from providing security on the North Campus in Salisbury and the South Campus in Concord?
A source close to the situation told WBTV that RCCC has asked for proposals for private security firms to take over those duties.
Captain John Sifford of the Rowan Sheriff’s Office confirmed that he had been talking to officials at the campus and that he is very concerned that such a move could put students and staff in danger.
In a letter to Tim Foley of RCCC, Sifford wrote “at present, with armed security, the college has trained officers,” and that after January, “RCCC will have an unarmed security guard to respond to a person armed with an AK-47. They will have no means of protecting the students, staff, or even defending themselves.”
Sifford was pointing to a recent incident where an armed man came on the campus of Elizabeth City State University.
Sifford’s concern is that if there were to be a threat or an incident on the campus, it would take valuable time for an officer to respond. He says an officer on campus “can return fire to protect the lives of the students, staff, and himself, and has a direct communication link, via his portable radio, with all area law enforcement agencies allowing a coordinated response to the shooter to be immediately formed, so that the threat can be neutralized.”
One source told WBTV that the move was being considered as a cost savings. RCCC currently pays officers $20 an hour to patrol the Salisbury campus, $25 an hour in Concord. According to one source, bids from private firms were coming in between $15 and $18 an hour.
Only sworn officers are allowed to carry guns on a North Carolina college campus, and private security officers would not have that ability.
On Wednesday afternoon two students from RCCC told WBTV that they didn’t really think have unarmed security would be a problem.
“I don’t think there’s any violence on campus, ” said Bonnie Jo Stevens. “I don’t think there’s any reason to have a gun.”
“Not really a difference either way,” said Kristen Lingle. “Most of the people that are here, they don’t really start any trouble and I don’t see a reason any weapons.”
WBTV has contacted RCCC to learn more about this situation.
Late Wednesday afternoon RCCC issued the following response:
RCCC conducted an independent security study of its current security services and processes in June 2011. This study was developed in response to the college’s enrollment growth, the addition of two new instructional facilities (North Campus- Building 400 and the NC Research Campus facility in Kannapolis), declining state and local financial resources, the college’s improved technology infrastructure, and the potential impact of the Rowan County bond projects on signage and location of services to students.
The college is mindful of the critical importance of security for its students, faculty, and staff. To date, we have an excellent record of safety on all of our campuses, and the intention going forward is for that record to continue, and more importantly, for everyone on the campuses to feel safe.
RCCC is the primary provider of initial certification and on-going in-service training for our public safety providers (Fire, EMS, and Law Enforcement). Consequently, we believe that our institution should be a model of best practice in providing for security resources on our respective campuses. The results of the study will help us determine the most appropriate and effective coverage for each of our campus sites.
In the past, we have relied heavily on security to manage traffic and parking at peak times during the semester. With the addition of new facilities, we recognize that there may be other needs that we should consider in establishing security measures for the campus. We recently invested in a significant upgrade to our technology infrastructure that will facilitate instant communication with students, faculty, and staff during an emergency – we want to leverage that technology effectively and efficiently.
The study includes recommendations regarding key deployment of personnel, use of cameras, student and employee identification badges, visitor access, and other areas involving safety and security. The college follows state laws, and a recent law empowers community colleges to remove individuals who are considered as dangerous or who pose a potential threat. In order to be compliant with the law and to protect our employees and students, there will be a requirement with our security providers to develop and deliver training to our entire campus staff.
RCCC’s security has historically included a mix of private security and armed security (employing law enforcement personnel from the primary agencies located within the college’s two county service area). We are currently in a bid process for unarmed security. The bid process was advertised in accordance with state requirements, and any agency with an interest in delivering these services was eligible to apply and attend the pre-bid conference. We anticipate that the college will still contract with local law enforcement officers for security needs that extend beyond those services available from a private firm. This initial bid addresses only phase one of our security plan. Changes in the college’s security strategy are expected to be effective at the beginning of the spring semester. The college is committed to enhancing the security and safety of all campus locations, and this initiative represents the first step in that process.