Emergency Preparedness/by Austin LaBrot
Mississippi College leaders are expanding safety measures across campus.
Incidents on the campus are so rare that buzz quickly spreads when something does happen. Two occurrences happened in the past month where non-students have come on campus property with bad intentions. Luckily for students, staff, and the surrounding community, MC Public Safety leaders were able to quickly find and apprehend those persons.
“We’re very fortunate,” said Mike Warren, Director of Public Safety. Warren was the former Clinton police chief and is a veteran of the Mississippi National Guard.
Warren brags about the Public Safety Office, “We have 15 full-time security officers, 15-20 part-time officers, an arson specialist, and polygraph examination officer. Many security officers are current or former law enforcement personnel. Over a hundred years of law enforcement experience are on campus at any given time.”
MC also has a contract with the Clinton Police Department. Overnight, up to three Clinton police officers are patrolling the campus. That is more on-duty officers than the city has at one time, Warren said.
The Office of Public Safety and administration have teamed together to expand emergency plans.
Currently, if any situation occurs on campus, the first steps by the Public Safety Office is to gather as much information as needed and quickly notify students through MC Alert. If a robbery or major crime happens, Clinton Police are notified and will be present at the scene.
Warren notes that Clinton is located between Interstate 20 and the heart of busy rail traffic. Hazardous material can pass near the campus at any time.
President Thompson and the his council have been expanding emergency procedures for the past year. “We want to be prepared,” Thompson said. “We want to make safety culture part of our routine.”
Over the summer, plans have been put into action. “There was nothing wrong with plans we already had in place. We want to expand and get even better [at preventing occurrences].”
Students, staff, and visitors can see new safety procedures in action. New signs have been posted at campus entrances warning about video surveillance and MC’s no firearm policy in accordance to state law. At major events (such as chapel or any event held in Anderson Hall), safety procedures are announced at the beginning of each session.
“We want to err on the side of caution,” Thompson said.
New safety policies are discussed weekly in President Council meetings. “Incredibly beneficial” tabletop exercises will be held soon, said Thompson. Upcoming exercises will be evaluated by Homeland Security officials.
While new policies are being discussed, students should be aware of already available Mississippi College resources.
Students can call Public Safety for a ride at any time if one feels unsafe. The silent witness policy allows students to anonymously submit information to Public Safety. Current emergency procedures are available at mc.edu/offices/safety.
Blue poles are located across campus at strategic locations. They may not be used frequently, but they are fully functioning and available in a crisis. MC also replaced lights in parking lots.
Students, faculty, and staff should also be aware of the “emergency” tab on the Mississippi College app. The tab lists contact information for Public Safety, Clinton Police Department, MC Alert, and Counseling Services.
“You know what’s wrong in your environment,” Warren said. “Let us know if something doesn’t feel right. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right.”