*** NOTE ***
By Karen Herland
Since 2001, the university Security Department has managed to reduce the number of incidents reported to them by 65 per cent. And they are not done yet.
They have recently hired security Investigator - Preventionist Lyne Denis who comes with an extensive background in nonviolent crisis intervention training. She’ll be offering that program over the course of the year to staff.
“We’re especially concerned about front line staff such as administrative and support staff who are most exposed, like those working in the Registrar’s Office, Le Gym and the Info desk,” said Denis. All of those areas are easily accessible from the street or the metro, and many are staffed during off hours, when there is less foot traffic on campus, leaving staff vulnerable.
The full day intensive sessions feature role-plays and other personal safety techniques. Denis, who held a similar role at McGill for several years, likes to mix groups up so that people who work in different situations can learn from each other.
Of course, staff and faculty members can apply to participate in the sessions, which will start in November. If you wish to register, you can do so by sending your coordinates to firstname.lastname@example.org. These new workshops are only one feature of a full-scale plan that builds on efforts begun in 2002, when Vice-President Services Michael Di Grappa green-lighted a five-year program to increase campus safety. In that time, according to Director of Security Jean Brisebois, the problem areas were analyzed, and then targeted with better collaboration and improved equipment (like increased security cameras).
“We work more closely with the police,” said Brisebois. Adding that two years ago, when bicycle theft was identified as a major problem, they started inviting Tandem Montreal on to campus to raise awareness on safety measures to deter bicycle thieves.
Brisebois has also begun exchanging information with security teams at other downtown institutions. Together, they have identified patterns of groups of thieves who will hit either a university or hotel, steal personal items and then head to another institution for another theft.
“When you see five people enter the library on the security monitor, and fan out, and then you get five reports of stolen laptops, it’s easy to see what’s happened,” said Brisebois.
He pointed out that security incidents follow patterns over the academic year. As an example, during exam periods, thefts go up because students tend to less careful about their possessions leaving their belongings unattended, creating the ideal conditions for thieves. Students also eat less regularly and go long periods with inadequate sleep. It is more common for security agents to be called to emergency medical situations as a result.
Denis will be establishing various prevention campaigns over the academic year providing tips and information on security and how not to become the next victim. Brisebois is also counting on a survey on security issues to help identify perceived gaps and problems with campus safety to better target future campaigns.