UNF looks to improve campus security

Christian Ayers, Intern Reporter

Campus security and personal safety are high priority needs for both students and university officials. At UNF, crime and other unfortunate incidents happen almost every day, but while most of these events are resolved well by UPD, some crimes slip through the cracks where there is low security or a lack of cameras in the area. 

Spinnaker often receives comments concerning Police Beat posts that state that there were no cameras in the area of certain crimes. These posts are not meant to highlight areas where it’s easy to commit crimes, but rather to accurately describe parts of the campus where crimes occur to keep students and staff well informed.

Looking back at the past dozen Police Beats, there were 9 instances where a security camera was not in the area of a crime or other incident. Some notable areas referenced in those Beats include the arena parking garage, Lot 10 and the parking lot crosswalks. Of course there are also instances where a security camera would be detrimental to student privacy, so places like restrooms and locker rooms wouldn’t have cameras installed due to the nature of those areas.

When Spinnaker reached out to UNFPD Chief Frank Mackesy and Chief Information Officer Scott Bennett concerning campus security cameras, UNF gave us the following statement:

“In the ongoing efforts to keep the campus as safe as possible, the University is currently working to consult with an outside agency that will assess and review cameras on campus and provide suggestions to improve security.”

In 2019, after a security scare in the arena parking garage with an alleged gunman that turned out to be a false alarm, UNFPD and university officials pushed an initiative to determine how the university reacts to emergencies and crises. The alert system in place at the time took about an hour to deliver the emergency message to some students, and left most of the staff and faculty confused as to what the protocol was during the incident. Thankfully, the situation resolved itself and gave the university a chance to review their crisis response system and improve it.

UNF has taken critical steps to improving campus security over the years, including equipping UNFPD officers with body cams. On Feb. 18, a suspicious man attempted to leave a tote bag in President Szymanski’s office, resulting in staff calling UPD. According to a university statement the following week, UNF’s Crisis Management Team (CMT) increased security at J.J. Daniels Hall Building 1, posting a security guard to check ID’s and escort visitors to the second floor office. The university insists this added security was not in response to any incidents.

Also in the statement, the university and CMT said the following:

“The addition of a security guard in Building 1 is just one of many recent actions that have taken place. Other campus improvements to strengthen building security include the installation of a centralized campus building lockdown system, card access system on all campus housing facilities, 100+ panic buttons with direct links to campus police department, 250+ security cameras on exterior and interior locations, enhanced lighting in several areas and retrofitting classroom as well as lab and office locking systems for increased protection.”

Of course security is a very critical aspect of daily campus life, and the university is dedicated to protecting its constituents. UNF is looking to make strides in its campus security, but it’s critical that students and staff also stay vigilant and pay attention to their surroundings, especially in areas where security is low and foot traffic is limited.

** This story was updated at 10:32 a.m. on March 5 **

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