Tag: campus safety

Crime report shows decrease in burglary, increase in stalking

by Desiree Lopez

An increase in stalking and motor vehicle theft, along with a decrease in burglary, are among the reported in the 2018 Annual Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Report.

Dr. Stan DeMerritt, vice president of Student Affairs, had assistance from Dr. Lynn Cleavinger, dean of students, and Nickolis Castillo, chief of the South Plains College Police Department, with collecting information and disseminating the report before Oct. 1.

It is required by law that all post-secondary institutions receiving federal financial assistance disclose campus crime statistics and security information every year, according to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1990.

One case of rape was reported on public property in Levelland in 2018, while no cases were reported the previous year, therefore, showing a slight increase.

Cases of fondling decreased from one case to zero, while cases of aggravated assault also decreased from four cases in 2017 to zero in 2018.

Two cases of burglary were reported on campus property in student housing facilities on the Levelland campus, which is a decrease from the four reported cases in the 2017 crime report.

Only one case of motor vehicle theft was reported for on-campus properties in 2018, while two cases were reported on public property.

There were no cases of incest, statutory rape, robbery, or arson reported on the Levelland campus in 2018.

In 2018, one case of domestic violence was reported on public property in Levelland, which shows a small increase compared to zero in 2017. Cases of dating violence decreased from one to zero in 2018 for on-campus student housing facilities.

The number of stalking cases increased from zero to eight on on-campus properties, and two out of those eight were at on-campus student housing facilities.

We have a case with multiple reports involving the same person,” said Dr. DeMerritt, vice president for student affairs, at the October meeting of the South Plains College Board of Regents meeting. “So that’s why it looks inflated than what it usually is.”

These stalking cases were all reported from the Levelland campus.

One arrest was made in 2018 for carrying or possession of a weapon at an on-campus student housing facility. No disciplinary referrals were given for carrying or possessing a weapon on the Levelland campus.

Three arrests were made for drug abuse violations on on-campus property, and one of them was at an on-campus student housing facility. This is a slight increase from zero arrests reported in 2017. A total of 14 disciplinary referrals were reported for drug abuse violations in 2018, declining from 19 in 2017.

A total of 21 arrests were made in 2018 for liquor law violations, while a total of 19 disciplinary referrals were given on the Levelland campus. Both totals are decreases from the 2017 report, which included 28 arrests and 47 disciplinary referrals.

“We know for a fact, that if you look at disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations, we had a group of students in the fall of 2016 that continued into the spring of 2017 that continued to cause problems for us,” explains Dr. DeMeritt.

Three fires were also reported in 2018. An accidental grease fire occurred in one of the Smallwood apartments, which had property damage of $100. In Lamar Hall, a lit sparkler caused a fire with no property damage. Lastly, in the kitchen of North Sue Hall, a fire caused by burned popcorn was reported, but there was no property damage.

According to the Annual Security Report, South Plains College’s goal is to create a truly safe campus that can be achieved through the full cooperation of all students, faculty, and staff.

We take care of this (report) every day and try to make sure that we’re taking care of what we need to report and being very transparent with it and not hiding numbers, not inflating numbers, not ventilating numbers and being very truthful with what we find,” explains Dr. DeMeritt.

It is encouraged to act responsibly, work collaboratively together, and whenever possible assist each other to promptly, accurately and effectively report all unsafe incidents and criminal offenses to campus security authorities or responsible employees.

The Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Report can be found on the SPC website at http://www.southplainscollege.edu/studentconsumerinformation.php under Security, Crime, and Fire Safety Reports.

CampusShield app provides safety measures for students

CampusShield is an app that is being used by colleges across the nation with a goal of strengthening communities by connecting campus safety forces with those who are in need.

Personal safety and security on campus are big concerns for students, faculty and parents across the country.

color shieldSouth Plains College was looking for better ways to ensure the safety of students through integrated software and a single solution. The new smartphone app, which was launched March 18, features an Emergency Button, which can immediately connect to campus safety forces, along with Safety Escort, which allows an individual to request a safety escort on all SPC campuses. There also is an anonymous tip button that allows photos and/or video to be submitted to law enforcement.

According to Chief Nickolis Castillo, director of Campus Police at SPC, it took roughly three years to work through service agreements, contracts, and to get approval for the app to be introduced at SPC.

“To me, there are two important aspects of safety,” said Castillo. “There is the actual safety of the campus, and the perception of safety on the campus.”

The college is required under state law to perform a safety audit every three years, and, according to Castillo, when it came to safety across all campuses, he wanted SPC to be a leader in this area.

Castillo hopes that students will be able to use the app as a way to rely more on themselves and their peers for safety, as well as to have access to officers on duty at a greater capacity whenever a student or faculty member needs help.

One of the most unique and important features of the app is called Geofencing. Once the user opens the app, they will notice an emergency button at the very top of their screen. This button is a Geofence  to the user’s current location on any campus. If the user is off campus and finds themselves in an emergency, they can still use the app. Pressing the emergency button will dial 911 and call the nearest police dispatch for them.

If a user encounters an emergency, they do not have to find specific phone numbers tocolor shield call the right office. If the emergency button is pressed using the CampusShield app, it will give officers on duty at that campus their location.

“ I encourage everyone to download the app,” said Dr. Stan DeMerritt, vice president for student affairs at SPC.  “In an emergency, only the authorized personnel at the scene will be able to see the information and will be able to communicate it to hospital personnel. Overall, this is a great solution for SPC.  Hopefully, students will use the Submit a Trip and FriendWatch on a regular basis.”

The FriendWatch feature allows for peer-to-peer monitoring. The police are not involved unless the user, or a third party, decides that they must call campus police to get them involved.

It allows for users to monitor each other. When they create their own profiles, they are able to select a group of friends who are part of their contacts in that profile. When they use FriendWatch in the CampusShield app, they can select the activity that they’re planning to do and then select a time period when they’re expecting to be completed with their activity.

After the user selects a time period, they are required to enter a pin number that they will have to put in a second time once their activity is supposed to be completed.

If the user does not enter their security pin number that was created within that time-frame, then it notifies their friend that was selected that they did not make it to their destination, or that they weren’t able to complete that activity. Once their friend is notified, then they will be able to see each others location in order to see if something had happened to them.

This is a way that students can monitor each other and make sure that the others are safe. It is all voluntary. Nothing is required, and it stops tracking once that pin is entered by the user.

The app comes with many other features for students and faculty, and more features may be added in the future. If any student or faculty member is just in need of service, do not hesitate to call campus police, and use the CampusShield app for emergencies only.