RCCC to revamp security
By Sarah Campbell
Rowan-Cabarrus Community Collegeís security set-up will be undergoing some changes at the start of 2012.
The college is currently in the bid process to hire a private, unarmed security force, an estimated savings of 15 percent in overhead costs, according to President Carol Spalding.
Right now, the college contracts private security through P&G Security, which handles security at the South Campus in Concord as well as the Cloverleaf Extension Center and the North Carolina Research Campus building in Kannapolis. That security is augmented by area law enforcement agencies.
Armed security cost the college more than $278,000 this year, with unarmed security ringing in at about $161,000.
Spalding said armed security comprises 64 percent of the cost of security for the college and 59 percent of the manhours. Unarmed security makes up 36 percent of the cost and 41 percent of the manhours.
But those ratios could be changing in the future.
ěWe are not certain of the future security set-up,î Spalding said.
That uncertainty comes with the hiring of Tim Bost as the director of safety and security.
Bost will be charged with streamlining the collegeís security outfits, which could mean a shift in the amount of armed and unarmed security on each campus.
ěWe plan to be more strategic in our use of armed security,î Spalding said. ěParking cars and managing traffic is not a good use of off-duty police officersí time on our campuses.
ěWe are analyzing our hours of operation, student demographics, neighborhoods and adjacencies, etc. to ensure that each site is appropriately managed.î
The college decided to create the position of director of safety and security after soliciting an evaluation from Risk Management Associates, a Raleigh-based security consulting firm, earlier this year.
ěFortunately, RMAís comprehensive report found that Rowan-Cabarrus has very safe campuses,î Spalding said. ěEven so, a systematic process of reviewing security is recommended by experts around the country and we feel it is important to improve and re-evaluate security in order to continue to keep the college safe.î
Spalding said Bost will be taking a situational approach to security.
ěWe plan to address each campus individually instead of a ëone size fits allí approach, which would not best serve each locationís unique environment and interests,î she said.
Rowan County Sheriffís Capt. John Sifford has raised some concerns about the possibility of having fewer armed officers on campus.
In a memo to the collegeís academic vice president, he stated that an active shooter on campus could ětruly create a body countî before armed officers arrive at the scene.
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 a 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 formed.î
But college officials said itís worth noting that the victim of the murder-suicide at Virginia Tech earlier this month was an armed officer.
ěUnfortunately, in these terrible situations, the presence of armed versus unarmed officers is not always the deciding factor in determining the outcome of the situation,î Spalding said. ěNonetheless we are prepared for such incidents.î
After alerting law enforcement through 911, the college would notify students of the situation through the Campus Connect telephone system that can alert students, faculty and staff via text message, email or voicemail.
ěWe also routinely perform evacuation drills and train supervisory staff to deal with potential incidents,î Spalding said.
Student Jennifer Glover said sheís not worried about the possible use of fewer armed officers.
ěEven though we have armed security guards now, they donít use their weapons,î she said. ěAnd Iíve never felt any threats.î
Glover, who has been attending the school for more than two years, said she feels like the college takes the necessary steps to keep students safe.
ěIíve never felt unsafe,î she said. ěIn fact, I feel safer now than I did when I attended the college back in the í90s because the parking lots are better lit and there are more officers on campus.î
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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