Volume 48, Number 1 - August 16, 2010

About the Reporter

Mark Pulaski
Mark Pulaski
Wolfson Campus Bureau Chief / A&E Editor

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Photo of officer helping students
Safety First: Sergeant Geraldy Figaro of the North Campus Public Safety Department assists students. ALEXANDRA CAMPO / FALCON TIMES STAFF

Public Safety: Here to protect North Campus

By Mark Pulaski

The Public Safety Department—with more than 100 officers on staff— is here to serve you, North Campus Chief of Public Safety Therese Homer said.

Among the services the department provides are: Locking and unlocking classroom doors, a booster service for dead car batteries and an escort service to and from the parking lot.

Officers patrol the 245-acre campus on foot, bicycle and an assortment of motorized vehicles.

But Homer—a certified police officer with more than 30 years of experience—said its everyone’s responsibility to assure safety on campus.

“I want everyone to look at the campus like their community,” said Homer, who also hosts the show Safety First on MDC TV. “[Students] probably spend more time here than at home.”

Another safety feature to the campus is a partnership between Miami Dade College and the Miami-Dade Police Department. The program allows for two police units to patrol the North Campus Monday through Saturday, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, according to North Campus Assistant Chief Hector Pujadas.

An important change this year will be the enforcement of the college’s new ID program. Students must display their college ID at all times while on campus. Visitors are required to visit the public safety window and will be issued a visitor’s ID badge for the day.

Homer stressed that the crackdown is not intended to harass students, but rather to protect them.

“It’s very serious for [the students’] protection, for staff and faculty as well…so we can identify who is supposed to be on campus and who is not,” Homer said.

The campus is also equipped with “emergency code-blue telephones.” There are 14 of those located in the various parking lots on campus.

They can be identified by their bright yellow coloration and a blue light on top; in addition, there are more than 60 “blue phones” located throughout the campus, which ring directly to a public safety dispatcher.

“It looks like they’re doing a good job,” said Martin Johnson, 29, a criminal justice major referring to public safety officers at North Campus. “I haven’t seen any mischief around here.”

However, not all students are satisfied with safety on campus.

“I don’t feel that if someone is attacking me, they are going to do their job,” said Camelia Page, 19, an elementary education major. “Are they going to hit them with their flashlight? They need guns. Step it up to police, not security guards.”

But Homer doesn’t believe this is an issue, noting that because the criminal justice program is based at the North Campus, there are plenty of armed police officers on campus.

The campus also offers a “College Crime Watch” program, which urges students to take an active role in the security of their campus. In addition, the college will be hosting its annual “Campus Safety Day” on Wednesday, Sept. 29. The event will feature representatives from various police agencies including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, and local police departments.

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Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
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