Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Campus Security 101

By Ursula Madden - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - As classes begin on college campuses across the Mid-South, security is top of mind for most students.

When you enter the campus of the University of Memphis, chances are you're being watched.  Hundreds of web-based cameras are set up in parking lots, at emergency call centers, and entry gates - cameras that allow campus police dispatchers to see you in real time.

"So if someone goes to one of the emergency or blue light phones and hits its the button which automatically dials on a designated phone line, she can pull up the camera image also," said Bruce Harber, Director of Police Services at of University of Memphis.

Cameras placed at entrance gates allow students to remotely show security guards their identification, proving they belong on campus.

If you're walking across campus and feel uncomfortable hit our number, and you're going to be hooked up with a live dispatcher immediately," Harbor said.

That's 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

Most colleges also offer a text messaging alert system.  At the University of Memphis, it's free, and you can register more than one phone number.  This allows parents to get a text alert at the same time as a student.

When students arrive on campus at night, they don't have to walk alone.  They can call the Tiger Patrol.

"They do escorts from basically dusk until 2:00 a.m., and that's another number we really encourage our students to program into their phones," Harbor said.

Students who run the Tiger Patrol are vetted with criminal background checks, so in this case, it's okay to get a ride from a stranger.  And don't be surprised if you see a squad car cruise by on campus, as four to five officers patrol each shift..

College campuses are still some of the safest places in the Mid-Souh. In fact, three out of the past four years, the University of Memphis had the lowest crime rate of all major schools in the state. And, crime went down nearly two percent in 2008.

Rhodes College offers some general recommendations to reduce your risk of being victimized:

  • Lock your doors - on your car and at your home or dorm room
  • Never prop open a residence hall door or fence gate
  • Do not put your name or address on your keys
  • Avoid working or studying alone in campus buildings
  • And always report suspicious persons to campus security

To learn more about security features at several Mid-South colleges, follow these links:

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