Keeping peace in an open environment
Keeping peace in an open environment

May 1, 2000 12:00 PM
Don Garbera

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), a 20-year-old international organization dedicated to standardizing police procedures, presented the Central Connecticut State University Police with its prestigious Certificate of Accreditation in January.

Accreditation marks successful voluntary compliance with a nationally recognized body of standards deemed essential to the protection of life, safety, health and rights of citizens. Central Connecticut, New Britain, Conn., has spearheaded the way for other universities to follow suit.

The accreditation was awarded due in large part to Chief of Police Jason Powell's efforts. Powell has been with the university for more than eight years. Previously, he was a captain with the Hartford, Conn., Police Department, where he received a distinguished service award for combat, merit award for valor, and numerous commendations for life-saving and apprehension of suspects. While on the force, he led a team responsible for apprehension of an auto theft ring that was connected to a South American drug cartel.

Powell says he is responsibile for a variety of security issues on campus: "I am responsible for overall campus safety and security, environmental health and safety issues, the enforcement of laws on campus, fire safety, facilities safety, and design of facilities - as it impacts campus safety."

Founded in 1849, Central Connecticut State University claims to be the oldest public institution of higher education in Connecticut. The latest enrollment figures show that the university has 11,903 students enrolled in 80 programs of study.

>From its original building on the corner of Chestnut and Main in New >Britain, Conn., CCSU has grown to 39 buildings located on 294 acres that >spread from New Britain to Newington, Conn. Of the 6,207 full-time >undergraduate students, approximately 1,700 live in campus residence >halls; the remainder commute to the campus for classes or reside in nearby >apartments.

Powell says security concerns for a university are different from concerns a corporation might address. "A university campus is an open facility. Unlike a corporate setting, it has a constant flow of traffic throughout the day, which can present a conflict. The open environment is necessary, yet safety and security must be maintained. The solution is to strike a proper balance. If you're overly secure, it will have an impact on the flow of people between buildings," he says.

When Powell came to the university in 1991, only a couple of areas on campus were protected by separate alarm systems. Everything else was controlled by keys - and almost everyone had keys to everything.

Powell has played a role in improving campus security. He hired a consultant to conduct a review of campus security systems and make recommendations. As a result, Powell formulated a long-term plan to improve fencing, lighting in parking areas, and even landscaping - to provide a safe environment. "The changes help reinforce who belongs here, and who does not belong here," says Powell.

Powell also included an access control system and CCTV coverage in his long-term plan. He also planned to secure certain areas with Locknetics Touch Entry Key electromechanical locks. The Touch Entry Key system uses a device that looks like a button on a watch-fob, which is placed on a receptacle located at a door to gain entry.

The Touch Entry Key system is used in conjunction with CM Series computer programmable electromagnetic locks at doors throughout the various campus buildings. The CM Series locks are retrofitted over standard cylinder locking devices, and provide an audit trail. Each lock retains its memory, and is programmed individually at each door with a laptop computer. "From a managerial perspective, a benefit of this type of system is that it decentralizes responsibility. In other words, in areas where there is no centralized control, responsibility can be turned over to the head of that area. It eliminates the need for centralized control, and accompanying personnel costs for that area. And, because the locks are electromagnetic, they are repairable by the existing locksmith staff," says Powell.

Various areas throughout the campus use an Edwards Systems Technology alarm system, a combination intrusion alarm and fire system. These areas are patrolled by security officers who are assigned keys to these locations. The keys, controlled by a Morse Key Watcher System, are also assigned to university faculty using these areas.

All campus buildings are linked via fiber optics for CCTV surveillance, and for educational purposes. Doors at certain locations include a CCTV camera and a card swipe station. When an employee needs to enter, the camera immediately zooms in on the individual's face, and the image is matched against a picture of the authorized individual stored in a database in the security control room.

CCTV cameras - a combination of Sony and Panasonic - are used in elevators, lobby areas, residence halls, certain pathways between buildings, and some of the parking locations. They are also used within the campus police department to monitor the lobby, and in areas such as the holding cell where prisoners are kept.

The control room includes Panasonic and Sony time-lapse recorders and monitors, as well as a computer-aided priority dispatch system. It houses computers which are linked to the Department of Motor Vehicles, The National Crime Information Center database, and the Connecticut State Police COLLECT, a statewide police database.

The room also houses Robot color quad multiplexers and Kalatel camera control units, along with a Racal digital voice logging system used for incoming emergency calls and radio communications between officers and dispatch. All incoming calls for service are recorded through the use of a Zetron instant call recorder that provides instant playback capabilities.

Twenty-five CCSU police officers patrol the campus. They are proprietary, have peace officer status, and carry 9mm firearms. They wear police type uniforms, and receive the same training as municipal officers.

The case of the clumsy gunman Recently, CCSU police were patrolling the third floor of the school's parking garage during evening hours when they spotted four suspicious-looking men. When the officers tried to investigate, one of the men attempted to dispose of a .22-caliber handgun, and reached over the edge of the garage wall, accidentally plunging 40 feet to the pavement - and breaking his ankle. He was found in possession of four small packets of marijuana weighing about 0.2 ounce each. The men's motive for being in the garage with a firearm was unclear. The man with the gun was taken to a hospital, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was charged with possession of a weapon and an illegal substance. The other three men were also charged in connection with the incident and arrested by CCSU police at the scene. They were charged with conspiracy to possess an illegal substance, breach of peace, and criminal trespassing. One of the men was also charged with driving with a suspended license. Powell says this type of police work attests to the quality of Central Connecticut State University's police force, and their security operation.

Top-notch investigative procedures Powell recalls another recent incident: "A few years ago, we had a rash of unexplained burglaries at academic buildings. It was obvious from these incidents that the perpetrator must have had a set of keys to these buildings. Not very much was taken in each incident; only small personal items or food, or in some cases personal electronic equipment. Recently, we experienced these burglaries again. We discovered open windows, and a certain number of minor items missing.

"Thanks to the investigative techniques of my staff, and good, solid police work, we were able to apprehend the perpetrator. He was spotted in the early morning hours sitting on a bench on campus. He seemed nervous in the officer's presence. When asked for campus ID, he had none. Furthermore, he gave conflicting explanations of why he was on campus. He was also found to be in possession of rubber gloves."

The man was arrested, and charged with criminal trespass. He subsequently admitted his involvement in the burglaries that had plagued the campus for years.

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