In the wake of the violence in Boston, UR Security is operating as usual. According to Deputy Director of Security Mark Fischer, there hasn’t been a change in policy or procedure, just an increased awareness by Security officers.
“We have a heightened attention to anything out of the normal, like suspicious mail or items that are left behind and even observations from people,” Fischer said.
In fact, this awareness is the best preventative measure they can have. Fischer says it’s important for students to use their eyes, ears, and gut.
“People have pretty good gut instincts,” he said. “If you notice something out of place or that causes you to think ‘that doesn’t look right,’ then call [security].”
With new peace officers being sworn in this fall, UR’s ability to handle suspicious situations will improve. Right now, Security officers have the same standing as citizens when it comes to the law. They can’t detain people, question them, or arrest them. This means that for suspicious people or circumstances, the best Security can do is follow the situation and wait for the Rochester Police Department (RPD) to respond.
This can result in potentially dangerous situations. For instance, one lieutenant officer was following a suspect in a laptop theft. The stolen items were visible to the officer, but he could do nothing more than observe and follow the suspect. Eventually, the suspect pulled out a box cutter and attacked the pursuing officer.
“As a citizen, probable cause isn’t enough [to stop someone],” Fischer explained. “Folks won’t see any difference [with the Peace Officers], and we’ll still refer most student [infractions] to the Dean of Students’ Office. Our ability to protect the community is greater now. When you protect officers, you protect the community.”
While peace officers do offer enhanced security, if events escalate beyond the scope of internal Security, UR is still ready. Fischer suggested that students heed AlertUR messages and always take the instructions seriously. Security will also usually send follow-up emails as new information becomes available.
“There are usually about 25 security officers on campus at any given time, but it’s three minutes to RPD on one side and the State Police on the other,” he said, adding that RPD can usually respond in under two or three minutes.
In the event of large-scale violence or an active shooter, Fischer recommended following a plan of “run, hide, fight.” The first thing you should do is run away, then hide, preferably behind a locked or barricaded door. Fischer said that most active shooters are on the move and rarely stop to knock down doors or shoot locks. If all else fails and worse comes to worst, Fischer says to just “fight with all you have.”
That said, the events in Boston appear to be localized and, according to Fischer, haven’t added any “new tape or roadblocks.” Students shouldn’t feel worried or unsafe on campus, even with large events like Dandelion Day approaching. In fact, Fischer was pleased with how students behaved last year and expects no problems on D-Day this year.
“Last year was my first D-Day and I was proud of how students acted,” he said. “Their behavior was fantastic.”
Esce is a member of the class of 2015.