Safety taken seriously at DSU
by Rory Doyle
Jan 23, 2013 | 2148 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
School shootings have been a national issue gaining steam for the last decade, and the problem is at the forefront following the tragic Sandy Hook shootings in December.

The incident was the second-deadliest school shooting in United States history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

Delta State University Police Chief Lynn Buford is working hard to assure safety for the DSU campus and the Cleveland community.

Buford said he and his officers and staff are thankful nothing of magnitude has rocked DSU and they take great pride in maintaining a low-crime campus.

"Incidents over the last year have heightened everyone's awareness, but anyone coming on our campus should feel safe," said Buford. "If you look at our crime stats we are a very safe environment."

Campus safety at DSU became a hot topic last Wednesday after a 24-year-old Cleveland man made threats to admissions staff when he was told he lacked credentials to become a registered student.

According to Buford, the suspect has a history of mental issues and his threatening gestures suggested he might come back to campus with a gun.

"This was an isolated incident and our officers did a good job taking control of the situation and arresting the subject," said Buford.

Buford added that the department has an endless commitment to staying trained, aware and prepped for emergencies — and this commitment is the key to keeping DSU secure, just as it did in last week's incident.

The nine-officer department is constantly staying abreast with the most recent training and certification opportunities.

"Training is at our forefront," said Buford. "We recently went through Active Shooter Training and we will continue to keep training a priority, especially when it's applicable to us in the college environment."

Gun related cases at DSU are rare, but any indication of weapons on site initiates a serious inspection.

"If we become aware of weapons on campus we begin a thorough investigation of the threat level," said Buford.

Seeing that the campus is an open, ungated community, Buford said there's no way to know of a visitor's intentions, but the department is constantly patrolling to ensure everyone's safety.

"Communication is something we are looking at improving," he added. "That includes communication between us, different departments and offices — the university as a whole.

"We want to take a positive and proactive approach to enhancing security."

Other ideas to boost safety are up for discussion, including having faculty, staff and students wear ID badges, as well as enhancing emergency notifications through emails, texts and social networking.

Cooperation and assistance from local authorities also adds an extra element of reassurance.

"Our communication with the Cleveland Police Department and the Bolivar County Sheriff's Department is strong," said Buford. "We stay in touch about the safety of the university community and the surrounding community.

"In light of recent events, I think it's time we all reconvene to discuss school safety issues countywide."

For the meantime, the DSU Police Department will continue to maintain a protected environment.

For questions or comments concerning campus safety, contact the department at 662-846-4155 or send an email to police@deltastate.edu.

The mission of the university police department is to protect life and property, to understand and serve the needs of the campus community, to improve the quality of life by building capacities to maintain order, resolve problems, and apprehend criminals in a manner consistent with the law and reflective of shared university values.