Safety Initiatives on Georgia Tech's Campus

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Rachael Pocklington
Parents Program
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404-385-3920
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Summaries

Summary Sentence:

President Peterson strives for zero crime on campus.

Full Summary:

Student safety is a top priority here at Georgia Tech and we are proud of our ability to provide our students with an open, traditional campus in the middle of a fast-paced urban city. Yet, like all college campuses, there are challenges related to student safety. This past year Institute President G.P. “Bud” Peterson, in concert with local law enforcement, members of the campus community and surrounding neighborhoods and our own public safety staff, has made significant strides in improving the safety on our campus and in the neighboring areas around campus. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk about student safety with Institute President Peterson.

Rachael Pocklington
Communications Officer, Parents Program

Student safety is a top priority here at Georgia Tech and we are proud of our ability to provide our students with an open, traditional campus in the middle of a fast-paced urban city. Yet, like all college campuses, there are challenges related to student safety. This past year Institute President G.P. “Bud” Peterson, in concert with local law enforcement, members of the campus community and surrounding neighborhoods and our own public safety staff, has made significant strides in improving the safety on our campus and in the neighboring areas around campus. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk about student safety with Institute President Peterson.

What is your assessment of the safety issues at Georgia Tech -both on and off campus?
When I arrived at Tech in the spring of 2009 we were seeing a definite uptick in the level of criminal activity in the areas around campus. I believe that this is reflective of the inherent nature of being in an urban setting during an economic downturn, a position that was reinforced in my conversations with my fellow Presidents around the country, who were experiencing similar increases. Shortly after my arrival, we implemented a number of safety initiatives and have strengthened our working relationships with various law enforcement agencies including the Atlanta Police Department (APD), Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In addition, our efforts to proactively work with city council members, the mayor and neighboring businesses have yielded great results. Both on- and off-campus crime is down considerably. From January to July 2010, there was a 22.5 percent decrease in crime on campus compared to January to July of 2009. Crime for Zone 5, which includes the area surrounding Georgia Tech, was also down by 14 percent during the same time period. I believe that the Tech campus is safe. It is the surrounding areas that need attention. Tech’s proximity to criminal activity in the surrounding area has drawn a lot of media attention and, yet, much of what is reported does not involve Tech students.

What types of crime prevention initiatives have been the most successful?
Having an increased police presence both on- and off-campus has had a significant impact. In the last year, Georgia Tech has added a number of new police officers to our own campus security force, bringing the total number of campus police officers from 64 in April of 2009 to the current level of 76.

In addition to our own efforts, our relationship with the APD has been instrumental in helping to secure the Home Park neighborhood, where the greatest number of incidents has occurred. Last spring, APD added nine additional officers spread over three shifts who are dedicated exclusively to foot patrols in the Home Park area. The Georgia State Patrol has also implemented roadblocks and random stops in Home Park, which has really helped deter criminals from this area.

The Tech and Atlanta communities have also pulled together on a number of community work days to help remove debris and improve the appearance of the Home Park area. When a neighborhood is clean, it tends to be less attractive to criminals. Val, my wife, and I wrote thank you notes to many of the residents for their help in keeping the neighborhood clean and to the land lords thanking them for their cooperation. We will continue this effort because it works.

What do you foresee in the future?
Safety will remain our number one priority. Zero crime is the goal, both on and in the areas around campus. We will continue to work proactively toward this goal and are budgeting for seven additional officers on our campus police force. In addition to increasing police presence, we are also looking to improve the level of technology we use to keep our campus safe. For instance, the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) is currently in the process of transferring all alarm monitoring - which includes 250 fire and burglar alarms - to Georgia Security Systems. This will provide Tech the ability to test and quickly resolve any communication issues in the alarm system.

How are students notified about emergencies and other incidents that may threaten their safety?
The Clery Act requires that we make timely notifications about certain crimes that pose a threat to the campus community. In this regard, e-mail alerts are sent to students, faculty and staff when such incidents occur. This information is also posted on the Georgia Tech Police Department's website.

The Clery Act alerts, represent just one of the many methods we utilize to alert our campus community regarding safety concerns. For example, the Georgia Tech Emergency Notification System (GTENS), which relays time-sensitive emergency messages in the form of e-mail, voice mail and text messages, is used when situations require immediate action, whether it is to seek protection from severe weather or to stay indoors should there be other types of threats on campus. You should make sure that your son or daughter has signed up for both the text message and phone alerts from GTENS.

We also have an outdoor siren warning system along with a system that sends emergency alerts to classrooms through computers and projectors that are connected to the campus network. Students who live on campus also have access to the Georgia Tech Cable Network which relays Emergency Alert System messages that are generated by the National Weather Service, Atlanta Fulton County Emergency Management Agency, Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In addition, we share information via Twitter and Facebook since so many of our students participate in those social media forums.

The entire community has a vested interest in keeping this a safe campus. What can students do to reduce their chances of being victims?
All of us here at Georgia Tech will do everything that we can to provide a safe environment. We understand that parents send their students to college to learn, not to be victims. Students play an important role as well and we ask that they practice common sense. Turn the iPods off and don’t walk alone late at night, pay attention to your surroundings, take advantage of late-night transportation, report suspicious behavior and never, ever assume that it will not happen to you.

How can parents help their students be as safe as possible?
Reinforce your student’s role in being safe. We have developed a Safe Campus Initiatives fact sheet that details many of the current safety efforts both on and off campus along with key tips for students. This is posted on the Parents Program website. The GTPD website also posts crime alerts and other helpful resources including safety tips. I would encourage the entire campus community, both on and off campus, to become familiar with this useful information and share it with their students.

While we will continue to strive for zero crime on and around our campus, I feel good about where we are today and the progress we have made in the last 18 months. Georgia Tech is a safe campus and is a welcoming place for our students, faculty and staff. We will continue to do everything possible to ensure the safety of all concerned.

Additional Information

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Parent and Family Programs

Categories
Institute and Campus, Student and Faculty
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Keywords
academic support, progress reports
Status
  • Created By: Rachael Pocklington
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Sep 6, 2010 - 8:00pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:11pm