Local Universities Talk About Campus Safety


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The events at Virginia Tech have made some university officials in our area take a much closer look at their own emergency response system and campus security.

Samford law student, Blake Hungerford says he doesn’t worry about his safety when he’s on campus as long as he’s got his smart phone.

“How often do you get your emails? Daily pretty much. Like it said, they send snake alerts out. They sent a coyote alert out. Basically, they keep us updated on anything that’s going on on campus. So i feel like if anything big were to happen, like what happened at Virginia Tech, we’d know about it pretty quickl,” he said.

In about 30 seconds to be exact. Samford’s director of public safety, Mike Coppage, has worked in law enforcement for 40 years. He knows the importance of gaining control of an emergency situation quickly.

“We have a command structure set up, not only within public safety, but within what we call our operations group, that would be authorized to send out an emergency text alert over what we call our rave system,”said Coppage.

Coppage did not want to show Sammford’s actual system for security reasons. But he showed us something very similar.

“And all you have to do is hit the send key, and everybody in that group signed up for the message alerts, that would instantaneously go out to them,” he said.

For those who opted out of text alerts, there’s email. And if they can’t be reached that way, there’s the bell tower.

“If something were to happen, for some reason, let’s say the system went down for some reason, we could activate the bell system. That basically a continuous ringing of those big bells that anyone on campus can hear them and say well something is going on,” said Coppage.

Then there’s the blue call system emergency call buttons placed strategically thoughout campus.

Sophomore, Rebecca Gornto says she’s thankful she’s never had to use them.

“We have gate hours when our gates close an open and we have to go through a security guard after 10pm so I feel really safe about that. I’ve never felt nervous about walking around at night, or in the day, or alone or a group. I’ve never felt unsafe at Samford,” she said.

Rebecca went on to describe Samford as her “little safe bubble”. Of course Mike Coppage knows that’s not reality.

He says at any given time, campus security is responsible for the safety of up to 6-thousand people.

Univerity safety department is working on getting the funds for an state-of-the-art intercom system installed. That way they can pre-record annoucements and play them over loud speakers on campus.

ABC 33/40 also reached out to the University of Alabama. They did not want to go into detail about their emergency system. But a spokersperson did say they have an alert system in place.

UAB released a statement saying they use what’s called the B-Alert to communicate through text, email, telephone, etc.

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