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RCCC may turn to private, unarmed security

By Sarah Campbell and Nathan Hardin
scampbell@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY ó Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is rethinking its current security set-up.
The college is in the bid process for a private, unarmed security force said Jeanie Moore, vice president of advancement and corporate education.
But Moore said that doesnít mean the college will cut ties with local law enforcement.
ěWe anticipate that the college will still contract with local law enforcement officers for security needs that extend beyond those services available from a private firm,î she said in a statement. ěThis initial bid addresses only phase one of our security plan.î
Moore said in the past the college has relied on a mix of private and armed security. She did not comment on whether switching to a private security force would save money.
ěWe do not yet have that information. The bids are still in the review process,î she said.
But in a statement about the collegeís security plan, the college indicated that finances were one of the reasons the study was conducted.
ěThis study was developed in response to the collegeís enrollment growth, the addition of two new instructional facilities (Building 400 on the North Campus and the N.C. Research Campus facility in Kannapolis), declining state and local financial resources, the collegeís improved technology infrastructure, and the potential impact of the Rowan County bond projects on signage and location of services to students,î the statement said.
The college conducted an independent security study in June to determine the ěmost appropriate and effective coverageî for each of the collegeís locations.
ěThe study includes recommendations regarding key deployment of personnel, use of cameras, student and employee identification badges, visitor access and other areas involving safety and security,î Moore said.
Moore said the college recently updated its technology infrastructure and it plans to leverage that technology to provide student, faculty and staff with instant communication during an emergency.
ěThe college is mindful of the critical importance of security for its students, faculty and staff,î Moore said. ěTo date, we have an excellent record of safety on all of our campuses, and the intention going forward is for that record to continue, and more importantly, for everyone on the campuses to feel safe.î
In a memo from Capt. John Sifford of the Rowan County Sheriffís Office to RCCCís academic vice president, Sifford said he doesnít think students will feel safe.
ěI have talked with so many students and staff, who no matter how hard they try, cannot understand why their safety is of no value to the president of the college.î Sifford wrote in the memo.
Sifford stated that an active shooter on campus could ětruly create a body countî before armed officers arrived on campus.
ěAt present, with armed security, the college has trained officers, who qualify twice yearly and must meet a minimum score of 80 percent, to respond to the threat immediately,î Sifford wrote. ěThe officer can return fire to protect the lives of students, staff and himself, and has a direct communication link, via his portable radio, with all area law enforcement agencies allowing a coordinated response to the shooter to be immediately formedÖî
Having an armed law enforcement officer on campus provides a level of immediate protection that unarmed security will never be able to provide,î Sifford wrote.
In a phone interview with the Post on Wednesday, Sifford said local law enforcement agencies should be given a chance to form a proposal for the college to address costs or other issues. Sifford said security officersí hours are one factor that could be adjusted.
ěThose hours could be rearranged or modified,î he said. ěThere are certain things that could be done to cut costs if that is truly the reason.î
The safety of younger students that the college has recently reached out to is also something the college should look at, said Sifford, who serves as an on-campus officer about once a week.
According to the collegeís website, more than 150 high school students are enrolled in their Early College program.
ěThereís armed security at every other high school here in Rowan County,î Sifford said. ěIf they would make a change here then they would not have that for high school students.î

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