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Four years after the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, college campuses continue to implement security measures to ensure the safety of students and faculty across the country.
Security staff, including off-duty police officers, regularly patrol both the Rocky Mount and Tarboro campuses of Edgecombe Community College, as they have for the past several years. But over the summer, the college installed a set of security cameras to help guard the well-being of students, faculty, staff, and visitors to both campuses.
The college added 22 cameras to the Tarboro campus and six in Rocky Mount, according to Neil Baker, director of computer services.
“We tried to cover as much as possible - the entrances to the buildings, the entrances to the parking lots,” Baker says. “Obviously, you’re not going to cover everything with 22 cameras - it would probably take twice that much. But with the funds we had available, we covered as much as possible.”
All activity captured by the cameras is recorded and saved for 30 days, allowing analysts to review the video later.
Cameras are just one of the security measures the college has implemented in recent years. Lighting has been added, and some landscaping has been removed in an effort to make the campuses more open and visible. Police cars are parked at strategic spots during busy times.
In addition, faculty and staff undergo regular training to be more aware of suspicious behavior, and safety and security are focused topics for students during their annual orientation programs.
“We’ve tried to be proactive, and this is just another preventive measure,” says Michael Jordan, vice president of student services. “We’ve taken a look at Virginia Tech, and we’ve changed some things because of what happened there.”
In 2007, a lone gunman killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus, the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. After the shootings, college campuses across the country ramped up security.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” Jordan says. “We’ve had some minor altercations with some upset students, but we’ve had no incidents involving weapons.”
The cameras, which have been operational for just a few months, already have been useful for local law enforcement officials in a variety of cases, including a missing person report in Tarboro and a possible vandalism case at the college.
A student reported that her car had been keyed while it was parked at the college just a few weeks after the cameras were installed, Jordan says. Law enforcement officers reviewed the video and discovered that no one came near her car while it was parked on campus, proving that the damage occurred elsewhere.
“That shows that security cameras can serve multiple purposes,” he says.
Despite the widespread changes after the Virginia Tech massacre, campus security continues to evolve, especially considering there have been more than three dozen school shootings in the U.S. since the Blacksburg, Va., incident.
“It’s an ongoing process,” Baker says. “We not only want to secure the campuses, but provide as much safety for our students and whoever else comes to our campuses.”