Piedmont College lacks emergency plan

BY JESSIE OWENSBY, Co-Opinions Editor

Piedmont does not currently have an emergency preparedness plan to deal with hostile situations that may arise on campus.

“It’s something that senior administrators and myself are working on and something we’re looking at along with GEMA (Georgia Emergency Management Association),” said Chief of Police Dick Martin. “It’s complicated here because we don’t have the type of campus that we can actually shut down. We are not a gated kind of college, we don’t have a security person that you have to drive through. We have several city streets and a major federal highway going through our campus. It’s something that’s currently being worked on.”

However, Martin isn’t worried about it. He is comfortable with the training of his officers to make sure they can protect the students and faculty of Piedmont.

There are 20 officers on campus, and 16 of them are currently certified police officers.

“There is only one that has never been on the force,” Martin said. “The other three, because of age or whatever, just haven’t kept up their certification.”

He is confident that all the officers would know what to do if Piedmont were faced with a hostile situation.

However, Brock Bennett, junior mass communications major disagrees.

“I don’t feel like we would be safe if faced with a hostile situation, because I don’t feel like our police officers are trained enough on those things to be able to take care of something like that,” he said.

Martin said that campus police has officers working 24 hours a day, seven days a week monitoring the campus.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure this is a safe campus, and I believe in the end that will prevail,” he said.

The current punishment for people caught with any type of weapon on campus is very serious.

Martin said, although it has never come up in his 20 years of service at Piedmont,  “I would think that person would be in very serious trouble, not only with Piedmont, but also with us as law enforcement officers.”

Mallory Leary, sophomore criminal justice major, doesn’t think that is enough.

“Campus security is far away from all the buildings and there aren’t enough people on call,” she said. “There aren’t cameras or police patrolling the campus to take care of anything suspicious.”

There is no clear timeline established for when the emergency preparedness plan will be ready.

However, Martin assures students and faculty that when changes are made, they will have several ways to communicate those changes to the Piedmont population.

The school has an established text messaging alert system that would be used to alert the population. Piedmont would also utilize the school handbook and the Piedmont College website.

“There would have to be some training exercises, such as table-top exercises, with the faculty and the students to go over new safety measures,” Martin said.

He also said that it would take quite a significant amount of time to implement all the new strategies.

The first of many additions is the new siren alert system.

It was tested on Tuesday, March 25.

The purpose of the siren system is to alert the Piedmont campus of imminent danger, which Martin has not seen at Piedmont.

“Piedmont has a really good track record,” Martin said. “Nothing like that has ever happened here.”