Virginia Western Community College Chief of Police, Craig Harris, is always looking for ways to improve safety and security on campus. Like at many educational institutions around the country, Mr. Harris thought it was essential to retool his campus’s public safety plans after the tragic events at Virginia Tech. Mr. Harris explained that communication with their students is essential and that Talkaphone’s ETP-MT Emergency Phone Towers are a cornerstone to that connection.
“When Virginia Tech happened it brought everyone to the table and made everyone realize that something certainly needed to be done. The goal was to have them available to students if they needed them. We wanted to make them visible so that if there was an issue on campus, a student could turn around, look for the big red pole and run to it… Pre Virginia Tech we had Talkaphones that were smaller and inconspicuous because the college didn’t want to make them overbearing. The culture on campuses has changed. We decided that we needed to make the units more visible.”
Painted bright red and standing nearly nine and a half feet tall the Talkaphone ETP-MT Emergency Phone Towers are hard to miss for any student, faculty, or visitor at Virginia Western Community College. Virginia Western Community College student Hannah Oaks explains how she immediately noticed a difference on campus.
“I never used to see these around campus, but all of a sudden I started seeing them everywhere. They’re in so many places. I feel a lot safer at night because if there is an emergency I can run to the tower and activate it”.
The placement and visibility of the Talkaphone ETP-MT Emergency Phone Towers can help change the culture on campus. It’s one thing to have a safe campus, but another for your students to know you have a safe campus.
Mr. Harris explains, “Visibility is huge to our college. If students can see these towers then they know they’re safe and they feel safe. It was tough before because the units we had were so small, inconspicuous, and the majority of students didn’t know they were there. Students can now look in any direction, see a unit and know they’re safe.”
Contributing to the visibility of the units is the brighter Talkaphone LED light. Mr. Harris continues, “It’s great at night when a unit is activated and the blue light starts to flash because we can see it from a long distance away. The light stays steady blue at night so students can quickly look around and identify where the Talkaphone unit is. The response from my police officers is outstanding. There are times when individuals may have to walk a long distance to call the police and all they have to do now is look for the bright blue light. ”
Additionally, to make things easier for his officers, Mr. Harris wanted to incorporate video cameras with his arsenal of Talkaphone ETP-MT Emergency Phone Towers. Talkaphone was happy to help by supplying Mr. Harris with the ETP-MT Emergency Phone Tower camera arm attachment. Not only do these additions help provide a real-time overview of activities on campus, they provide a backlog of information at the touch of a button.
Mr. Harris elaborated, “The great thing about the towers is that we can add cameras on top. The cameras allow us to dispel a lot of things. There have been accusations made about cars being broken in to. We look at the camera footage from the Talkaphone to find out that that wasn’t the case. So it’s a double-edged sword as it works for emergencies and also helps us deal with issues that weren’t as truthful as we thought.”
The Talkaphone ETP-MT Emergency Phone Towers have been a highly successful addition to the Virginia Western Community College campus. Mr. Harris summed it up best saying, “The safety of the students is paramount. Academics are important, but without a safe campus academics mean nothing.”
This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of the Campus Safety magazine.