Safety: Priority No.1

Greg Turley, Campus Police Officer on the TCC West Campus, proudly dons his uniform.

TCC Campus Police Department makes strategic changes to strengthen safety

Feeling safe while on a college campus is important. Whether you are a student, an employee or a community member attending an educational event, it is essential that people on Tulsa Community College’s campuses feel safe so that they can perform their roles.

TCC administrators recognize how important it is to have a strong and prepared campus police department. Therefore, they have spent the past year strengthening TCC’s Campus Police Department presence to support safety across the College.

“TCC has always maintained the safety of our students, faculty and staff as a highest priority,” said Sean Weins, Vice President for Administration and Chief Technology Officer. “As the world of higher education has changed over the years it has become ever more critical to ensure that we have a Campus Police Department that is fully prepared to ensure the safety of our over 28,000 students, faculty and staff annually.”

Weins said the first step they took toward improvement included developing a multi-year relationship with Margolis & Healy, a nationally recognized law enforcement firm specializing in higher education. The collaboration led to several changes, including the addition of professional police officer uniforms. All TCC police officers now wear uniforms with the TCC Campus Police” designation, making them clearly distinguishable on campus.

“I’m still hearing compliments about the uniforms and we’ve been wearing them now for several months,” said Carmelia Brossett, TCC Campus Police Officer. “With the new uniforms, we are more readily identified as police officers and I think that is what everyone responds to and likes.”

Another method TCC Campus Police uses to strengthen the force is adding more full-time officers and limiting the number of part-time officers. Being on the job full time allows officers to get better acquainted with their responsibilities as well as their surroundings. Officers have more time to familiarize themselves with TCC’s four campuses, including learning the locations of student service offices, personnel offices, popular gathering spots, etc. Having a thorough knowledge of the four campuses is critical during an emergency. They also have time to develop social, professional relationships with their colleagues on the campuses, which encourages communication.

TCC Campus Police also continue to update TCC Alerts, a college wide, real-time emergency notification system. Students, faculty and staff who register to receive notifications from TCC Alerts are contacted either through email, phone or text message in the case of an emergency. The message not only provides information about the critical event, it also instructs recipients on what actions they need to take, if any. For example, TCC Alerts can notify people that the College is closed, prompting them to stay home instead of traveling to class. Ensuring this system stays updated secures fast, accurate communication in case of a critical event.

Gene Wideman, Director of Campus Public Safety, said that safety is the No. 1 goal for the department.

“The goal of Campus Police is to become a proactive department where student and staff safety is the first priority,” Wideman said.

Maintaining safety includes having a plan for emergencies. In fact, having a plan in place is critical, Weins said.

“Waiting until the event occurs to ‘practice’ for the first time is simply too late to effectively ensure that people respond appropriately and are able to minimize or reduce the impact to our TCC community.

“A great positive example was recently exhibited during the response to an electrical fire at the Metro Campus. As the Tulsa Fire Department and the TCC Campus Police Department responded immediately to evacuate and safeguard the building, our students, faculty and staff were outstanding in fulfilling their part of the safety equation by calmly and quickly evacuating the building just like they practice during fire drills,” Weins said.

More improvements are under way. Soon, TCC Campus Police will have its own centralized phone number, enabling callers to reach officers on any of the four campuses without needing a different phone number for each campus. Of course, anyone can call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency, but a centralized phone number for TCC Campus Police gives people on the campuses another option. Plus, the number, 918-595-8888, can be used any time.

“Not everyone is aware that we are never closed and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Brosset said. “Campus Police is always here and available, even when the college is closed.”