With the recent shootings at the Christian Oikos University in Oakland, Calif., the issue of safety has become even more critical for Christian schools.
While nothing even approaching the magnitude of the Oakland tragedy has occurred at John Brown University, Campus Safety believes that they are prepared for such an event.
“We have several campus safety officers with either current or past law enforcement experience, said Campus Safety Director Scott Wanzer, “That gives us a lot of value and a lot of strength in the field.”
That experience, as well as what Wanzer describes as a “great relationship” with the Siloam Springs Police Department breeds a sense of preparedness and confidence.
In fact, one of the members of Campus Safety is also a current member of the Siloam police force.
This experience also helps with dealing with the day to day duties of Campus Safety.
While the majority of their time is spent on dealing with traffic incidences and theft, Campus Safety has had to deal with arrests before, and not necessarily that of students.
“Most the time we have a passive safety function, but occasionally the criminal element makes its way onto campus, said Wanzer.
Wanzer named two incidences from the last year that involved non-students as examples, proving that the University is not immune to local crime.
One involved an intoxicated individual wandering into the area of the townhouses. Campus Safety was contacted and was able to calm the individual down until the police arrived and arrested him.
On another occasion, upon responding to a domestic disturbance in the intramural field parking lot, Campus Safety officers found that one of the people involved was an ex-convict.
He had previously been convicted for drugs and assault with a deadly weapon.
Safety is not only the responsibility of staff, though.
According to Wanzer, students can avoid the vast majority of incidences on campus by locking their dorm rooms and not leaving valuables like bikes or electronics unprotected.
Despite the trusting culture on campus, Wanzer says that theft does happen and cites the incidences that Campus Safety has had to respond to as evidence.
With their duties increasingly including dealing with local crime, however minor, spilling onto the campus, the need for effective safety coverage will become even more important.
Campus Safety, which currently has at least one officer patrolling the campus at all times, hopes to increase their coverage in the future.
“My vision for the department is to go to two officers patrolling at all times” said Wanzer, “Someday I hope to grow the department so that we can always have a backup on site. For a campus safety officer responding to a call, having backup is a good thing.”
A more immediate change is that non-injury traffic collisions are no longer handled exclusively by Campus Safety.
Siloam Police will also be called in to issue a police report, whereas in the past Campus Safety would do so.