Boston University Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore and BU Police Department Chief Thomas Robbins discussed safety issues facing BU students Tuesday night, including gunmen on campus, cell phone robberies and fire policies.
At the first Town Hall Meeting of the semester, in the George Sherman Union Conference Auditorium, Elmore and Robbins discussed current and past on-campus safety issues to about 10 faculty members and students.
A topic of interest was the incident that took place at the College of Arts and Sciences last Wednesday, when police responded to a caller who reported seeing a potentially armed man in a stairwell. Emergency protocol allowed for quick response from BUPD and the Boston Police Department, Robbins said. BU sent electronic alerts to students telling them to avoid the area while it was searched.’
‘We’re talking about a matter of minutes,’ Robbins said.
The Emergency Alert Service sent information quickly to the entire BU community, and ensured the least amount of panic possible, Elmore said.
This led to questions surrounding the lockdown policy at BU. There are specific lockdown procedures which are different for every building, and the ways to secure each building also differ, Robbins said. He said all BUPD officers are trained for lockdown situations.
‘We need to make sure we [train] in a variety of places,’ Elmore said.
Elmore and Robbins also discussed the recent string of cell phone robberies that occurred on campus. In January, two robberies and an attempted robbery were reported to BUPD. The Jan. 14 attempted robbery and Jan. 29 robbery both involved alleged victims walking down the street while talking on their cell phones.
Robbins said BUPD did not send an alert about the recent string of cell phone robberies because he does not want to alarm people if a situation is not serious. Instead, Robbins sent an email to the BU community Feb. 2 , warning students of the sudden influx in robberies.
Another issue facing the campus is fire safety, BU Fire Safety Specialist Chris Rowell said. Though there were no injuries and no deaths due to fires last semester, and all BU buildings are inspected each year in conjunction with the Boston Fire Department, three cooking fires occurred last semester.
Rowell stressed the importance of knowledge about common fire safety for all students, especially those considering moving off campus. In February 2007, two BU students died in an off-campus apartment fire.
‘Here, we have people available to help you 24 hours a day, but that may not be the case in an off-campus apartment or house,’ Rowell said. ‘Check all the alarms and escape routes. It’s always important to identify these things before moving in.’
When an audience member asked about the economic effects upon BU safety policies, Elmore assured the audience that the economy will in no way influence policy.
‘One thing we don’t skimp on is safety,’ Elmore said.