Volume 47, Number 15 - March 29, 2010

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Danithza Zevallos
Danithza Zevallos
Staff Writer

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Picture of Elena Alvarez
IN THE LIMELIGHT: Public safety officer Elena Alvarez is rarely seen without a smile on her face. Photo by O. Danilo Balladares/ Metropolis Staff

Public Safety officer has a "special touch"

By Danithza Zevallos

Does it seem like more public safety officers are patrolling the grounds at the Wolfson Campus?

Since January, five to six extra public safety officers have been added per shift according to Chief of Public Safety Scott McConnell.

McConnell said the beefed up security measures are geared toward “curtailing the homeless situation and preventing them from panhandling [the students].”

But other circumstances also add validity to the increased presence. Last November a female student was nearly abducted a few feet away from campus, and in February a 53-year-old woman, who was not a Miami Dade College student, committed suicide when she jumped from the fifth floor of building one. 

There has also been an increase in graffiti related incidents on campus, according to Judy Schmelzer, dean of administration at the Wolfson Campus. 

Schmelzer has worked closely with McConnell to reposition officers throughout the campus, specifically for the morning and afternoon/evening shifts when the campus is most populated.

“I work closely with Chief McConnell to constantly assess the security needs on the campus and we reposition officers as warranted,” Schmelzer said.

Currently, the Wolfson Campus has 58 public safety officers, 27 full-timers, 31 part timers, and 10 dispatchers. They work on rotating shifts from seven to seven, seven days a week.

The College also works in tandem with City of Miami Police Officers, who offer assistance to the College’s public safety officers. The police officers work at various intervals throughout the day.

“The presence of this level of law enforcement is an added safety asset to the campus,” Schmelzer said.

Mathematics major Camilla Fantechi, 42, said the new security measures make her “more secure, especially at night.”

“The [public safety officers] are very helpful,” Fantechi said. “I’d like for this program to continue.”

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