For many students, college is the first time they are on their own and the last thing on their mind is safety, but for Marc Molina, Assistant Director for Campus Safety at North Central College, it’s his number one priority.
“We want to have someone on campus that can respond to incidents and offer assistance and it may not always be emergency and doesn’t rise to police response but it’s nice to see people of authority whether it be parking violations, packages, activities going on that we can look into and give people a peace of mind. It’s more just to have a sense of safeness,” said Marc Molina.
His first line of defense is a team of safety officers, which include several former law enforcement officials, volunteers, and student officers. This group keeps an eye out for unlocked dorm rooms, theft, parking violations, drugs and alcohol abuse and transportation issues.
Benedictine University takes it a notch further with a campus police department consisting of state certified police officers, authorized to act as first responders.
Benedictine has also placed cameras throughout the school, including body cameras put on the officers themselves, to assist them with suspicious people on campus, sexual assaults, and other situations that may be harmful to their students.
“We can take action immediately, we will do a traffic stop if someone is impaired driving, we have a narcotics dog on campus, safety checkpoints at two in the morning, and again, if you have criminal intent we’re going to find that out real quick,” said Mike Salatino, Chief of Police at Benedictine University.
“Come on our campus impaired, break into a car, have an intent to sell drugs to our students, you’re going to get locked up.”
For larger scale emergencies, both schools have additional security measures such as immediate mass text and call alerts and outdoor alarm systems that sound throughout the entire campus.
But before a harmful event happens, they try their best to be prepared, by putting emergency response plans in place.
“It’s better not to be reactive, you want to be proactive,” said Michi Dubes, Emergency Preparedness Manager at Benedictine University.
Both schools do that by having their officers practice worse case scenarios for events such as natural disasters and active shooters.
Although extra time is needed to keep training updated, officials believe the students deserve it.
“We owe them that extra level of protection that they can rely on,” said Mike Salatino.
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