Green light means safety
Dec 1, 1999 12:00 PM
The bustling metropolis New Yorkers call the "Big Apple" can provide a rewarding experience for students coming to college in the city. But New York can also be a place where nightmares are realized, and fears are born. Making sure that students and staff traveling among campus buildings and classrooms at New York University remain safe is a task that falls to Jules A. Martin. He is assistant vice president for protection services at the New York University campus, which educates more than 50,000 students and employs 15,000 people. Special green light areas to ensure student safety are manned 24 hours a day.
New York University, established in 1831 and located in New York's Greenwich Village, is one of the largest and most prestigious private research universities in the United States. Through its 13 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, dentistry, education, nursing, business, social work, the cinematic and performing arts, public administration and policy, and continuing studies, among other areas.
Martin came to his position after a lengthy law enforcement background. Prior to joining the staff of NYU two years ago, he served as chief of the New York City Housing Bureau, where the 28-year veteran was responsible for the safety and security of approximately 600,000 residents of public housing in the five boroughs.
Martin joined the New York City Police Department in 1969, and was assigned to the 28th Precinct in Harlem. He worked his way up within the NYPD, and eventually was assigned to the Intelligence Division as head of the Municipal Security Section, where he was responsible for the safety and security of the mayor, as well as other top government officials.
Consistent with the size and diversity of NYU, Martin's responsibilities are varied.
"As head of the protection department, my core responsibility is to provide a safe and secure environment, and safe reliable transportation for students. I am responsible for security of more than 106 buildings which includes dormitories, resident halls, research and educational facilities," says Martin.
Green light safety The green light districts - a total of 24 throughout the campus - are buildings where a student knows that help is available if needed. The sites are equipped with bright green lights visible from the street, which signal the presence of a security officer.
Martin is keenly aware of the importance of campus security. "We are a university without walls located in the middle of the Greenwich Village community. Our students, faculty and staff must walk through the neighborhood to get to classes and offices. They need to be protected within the different facilities and also while traveling through the community," he says.
Controlling access into certain locations enables the security department to keep a tight rein on unauthorized entry. An AT&T One Card SA2000 and SA2001 system restricts entry at more than 140 points. Locations are linked through a combination of LAN systems and modems. Areas covered include resident halls, certain academic facilities, research facilities, the library, certain administrative offices, sports facilities, the bursar's office and even bicycle racks within an enclosed location. The cards serve as picture ID cards for student, faculty and staff, and are made on a DataCard system using AT&T Optimum 9000 software.
Because of the sensitive nature of activities involved in a number of buildings, a Northern Computers card access system is used. Elevators within these locations are also covered by the Northern system.
Sentrol 6150 Series motion detectors patrol during off hours in specific areas such as administrative offices, some academic buildings and research facilities. Recognition Systems hand scanners are employed at residence halls as well as in various academic buildings. The scanner compares student's and faculty's hands to images stored along with their personal codes. When a match is made, the person is allowed entry through a connecting Tomsed turnstile.
Outside surveillance The CCTV cameras that monitor the campus are a mix of Sony, Panasonic and JVC. Signals from all cameras come into a central command room that houses a Sensormatic Hyperscan system which receives images from remote locations, stores them and allows viewing of images while they are in the process of being stored. The Hyperscan system runs continually, allowing for uninterrupted viewing.
Other equipment located in the command facility includes two Robot multiplexers (multiplexers are also located at various security officer posts around the campus), 14-inch and 20-inch monitors, 27-inch call-up monitor, and a system that provides information on the exact location of a reported alarm condition. The system provides details about whom to call, with phone numbers of all contact personnel for that area.
The security operation runs with the help of more than 200 proprietary security officers. Six additional proprietary officers to assist students moving among classes, and provide backup security in academic areas. Full- and part-time contract officers are employed for special events and to guard construction sites.
Trained to protect Security personnel receive training - beyond what is mandated by the state of New York - from a hired consultant who is a uniformed police sergeant and trainer of NYPD police officers. Security officers at the sergeant level also receive supervisor training from theconsultant, and are required to attend an interactive lecture series for supervisors that includes speakers from the FBI, Secret Service, and local, state, and federal agencies.
The department includes an on-staff training manager that provides an additional two hours of training each month about various issues, such as first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, emergency procedures, legal powers and limitations, alarm systems updates, diversity awareness and student life. Supervisors receive additional instruction in basic supervision, including interpersonal skills, report writing, evaluation procedures, discipline, workplace violence, and executive protection. Those uniformed supervisors and officers who perform bike and security patrol receive on-site training at the NYPD Driver Training Unit.
Code of action To streamline security officer reporting procedures, Martin has implemented a set of radio codes similar to what police departments use. He says, "The codes help a security officer keep a radio report confidential, so that people involved cannot determine what is being transmitted to the security officer, and it also saves air time. There are codes for incidents such as emotionally disturbed individual, bomb threat, and alarm activated in the ladies room."
Martin has instituted pager communications. Using a Motorola Pagenet Alpha pager, all security managers are informed simultaneously of incidents occurring around the campus. Every manager carries a cell phone for communication with central control and with Martin.
Martin has implemented what he calls "THIO" - an acronym for The Heat Is On. It is a proactive security effort that divides the campus into sections of buildings with a supervisor for each section. Dedicated supervisors and teams for each group of buildings can get to know their buildings and inhabitants, and vice versa. With the THIO program, "floor watchers" who are NYU employees act as the "eyes and ears" of the security department. They report anything that is unusual to the security supervisor of their building. "It allows us to respond proactively - avoiding a potentially serious incident," says Martin.
Security desks at residence halls incorporate call-waiting capabilities to ensure that calls get through to security personnel, and women's and men's rest rooms contain United Security Products panic buttons.
Taking extra steps Security officers hand out cards with safety tips on them such as "Never leave personal belongings unattended." Another part of the program: Officers place stickers on unattended personal items to alert employees that the items could have been stolen. The sticker says: "Don't give crime a chance." Stickers are control-numbered. If Martin sees that an area is getting a lot of stickers, he will ask the security supervisor of the location to caution the employees to be more vigilant.
The security department encourages students to mark their personal property to make illegal sale harder - and recovery of valuables easier - and to register their property with the New York Police Department. Registration cards are available, as well as engraving tools for loan.
On university property, Protection Services officers have the same authority as owners of property. When not on university property, security officers have no authority beyond that of private citizens; they use citizen arrest procedures as necessary. In appropriate cases, NYU security personnel may be deputized by local law enforcement officials to assist in the handling of incidents, or to work with special task forces, but do not have the power of arrest.
Security officers patrol on foot and with the use of four bicycles, two scooters and a 4x4 Jeep. The 4x4 is equipped with darkened windows for confidentiality when transporting individuals involved in sensitive situations. An ADA-compliant van is available to transport physically challenged individuals.
Securing such a large institution as NYU requires cooperation and collaboration between Protection Services and the local authorities.
"We maintain a professional relationship with not only local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, but with the United Nations security staff as well. Our officers work closely with police precincts involved in our areas which includes the First (lower Manhattan), the Fifth (Lower East Side), the Sixth (Greenwich Village), the Ninth (Broadway to the East River), the Tenth (West Side), the Thirteenth (East Side), and the Seventh (Upper East Side)," says Martin.
Local police agencies are requested to report to NYU Protection Services any criminal activity involving NYU students or personnel at off-campus locations. Incident reports concerning students are sent to the vice president for student affairs for review and follow-up, as well as to the offices of Student Life and Resident Life, Health Services, Counseling Services, and the deans of students of the individual schools.
>From January 1, 1998, to December 31, 1998, Protection Services handled >seven robberies, five burglaries and six forcible sex offenses that >occurred on campus.
The university has created a special safety committee comprised of a four-member administrative body representing the university's offices of Student Life, Residence Life, Health Services and Protective Services, to help develop crime-prevention programs, safety workshops, video programs and posters.
The security department distributes information about campus crime to the university community through the campus media. In the event of serious crimes on or off campus, the Office of Protection Services immediately distributes safety alerts to all deans, vice presidents, residence halls and academic buildings, in addition to law enforcement authorities. Protection Services analyzes the reports, compiles crime statistics, and develops strategies to reduce criminal incidents and enhance preventive measures.
The Public Affairs Committee of the University Senate (representing faculty, administrators and students) is charged with annually reviewing the activities of the security operation, the adequacy of current crime prevention programs, and policies for responding to victims of crime.
Besides the green light districts set up by the security department, NYU has also coordinated with local merchants to provide a safe place where students can go for assistance in an emergency. Participating merchants are identified with a NYU Safe Haven decal displayed in their windows. More than 100 merchants participate in the program. As a side benefit to the merchants, their names are listed in campus news organs - which becomes free advertising for their stores. "It's a great community relations tool," says Martin.
The $90,000 Caper Recently, Protection Services received a report that, after an annual inventory was taken, camera parts were missing from the film department at the Tisch School of Art. Upon launching an investigation, Martin and his staff discovered that an employee, who was responsible for motion picture camera repairs at the school, was stealing camera parts, creating new camera units and selling them to another film school. Under interrogation, the employee "came clean" - confessing that he not only used usedparts, but also new camera parts to create the re-assembled cameras.
After confessing, the perpetrator was turned over to the NYPD, which obtained a search warrant and recovered the camera units from the other film school. The employee was prosecuted. The other film school claimed no wrongdoing, saying that they paid for the merchandise in good faith.
Celebrating Year 2000 Martin is putting together a special centralized command center to make security assistance available to the University on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
In the future, Martin's plans for the department include expanding the THIO program, increasing the mobilization of the department, and adding emergency call box locations as guided by area crime statistics. He's also looking into the possibility of putting in video capabilities. "If a person is seeking emergency services, I want to be able to see what's going on around that emergency call box," says Martin.