CVCC steps up security 

If you walk throughout the campus of Catawba Valley Community College, there are not many areas that are off limits. It is a place that administrators say is “very open and public,” and in the end is an educational tool that serves the societal group within its name – the community.

“Our general areas are all open to the public,” said CVCC President Dr. Garrett Hinshaw.

With such an open campus, security becomes a key issue – something Hinshaw said college officials have worked to improve the past few years. 
Since 2006, Hinshaw said the college has worked to implement or improve technology, policies and plans for every type of emergency situation. Recent emergency situations at schools, such as the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 in addition to a recent gunman scare there last week, has only added to the college’s need for tighter security, Hinshaw said.

“We take security and safety very seriously here at the college,” Hinshaw said. “We are going to continue to be diligent and make sure we are doing the best we possibly can to keep the campus safe.”

One of the campus’ main forms of security is a 24-hour video surveillance system. There are low profile surveillance cameras scattered about every sector of the college’s campuses. This digital equipment captures real-time footage day and night. Like most of the security programs on campus, the surveillance video was paid for in part by the county.

CVCC does not have a police force or security group, but there are three Catawba County Sheriff’s Deputies that serve as the campus’ security, Hinshaw said.

“They move within the campus and carry out law enforcement functions,” Hinshaw said. “They provide coverage at all times.”

CCSO has also provided campus staff and faculty with active shooter training, Hinshaw said, which prepares them to deal with a gunman or shooter on campus. Hinshaw said the training was a comprehensive event that included other emergency personnel in the area as well.

“We plan on doing more of those in the future,” Hinshaw said.  

Quick communication

The college has also added and enhanced a campus emergency information system that allows easy and quick communication throughout campus.

In addition to intercom speakers spread throughout campus, CVCC has improved lighting on campus and incorporated safety call boxes in parking lots – improvements Hinshaw said will help ease safety concerns for CVCC students, faculty and staff walking on campus late at night. 
“The majority of people are off campus by (10 p.m.),” Hinshaw said. “I think it has helped make people feel safer at night.”

Improved communication is one of the most significant security enhancements the campus has seen in recent years, said Bill Dulin, vice president of Student and Technology Services.

“We have the ability to communicate quickly to the entire campus, and that’s something we didn’t have before,” Dulin said. “We can put out whatever message we want to.”

In the event of an emergency, the college can also put e-alert messages on its website and in-house televisions spread throughout the school. The college is considering buying technology to do text message alerts, as well.

“We put a lot of emphasis on security,” Dulin said. “We have increased our spending on safety and security emergency information technology, I think it is making a difference.”