With the number of violent campus riots and shootings on the rise across the country, the BJU’s Department of Public Safety is working diligently to ensure the safety of those on campus.
Public Safety employs officers certified by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and between 60 and 70 students from diverse majors work for the department each year.
Joe Mulnix, chief of Public Safety has worked in the professional law enforcement field for more than 30 years.
Mulnix, who said Public Safety has many parallels to other law enforcement agencies, meets every month with area law officials, the FBI and Homeland Security to share official intelligence.
In regard to the many reports of campus shootings, Mulnix said Public Safety is prepared for the possible case.
“We’ve all been trained or prepared for problems like that, [and] we’re fortunate to have built relationships with the agencies in the area here,” Mulnix said.
Student workers start by directing traffic at the crosswalks and managing parking.
Then they move on to becoming uniformed night watch personnel.
Once they are finished with night watch, they move on to the communications center at the entrance of campus and learn the duties of dispatch.
Some students choose to stay with dispatch and move up the ranks, while others serve the allotted 20 hours and then move to patrol.
Public Safety works around the clock to make sure all is safe around campus.
At least two patrol cars drive on constant loops with uniformed officers, trained and certified in every aspect of their work.
The students on patrol log anywhere from 35 to 75 hours of training before and throughout out the semester depending on rank.
The dispatch officers are located at the front gate, which is similar to a 911 center of a police agency.
This communication center has officers prepared to take calls for either help or just information.
Jacob Chisom is a master sergeant and graduate assistant with Public Safety .
“There are a lot of hard working [men and women] out there,” Chisom said.
“For many it’s more than just a job. It’s an opportunity to help those around them.”
Students working for Public Safety are registered as private security officers and have the same authority and arrest powers as a deputy sheriff when they are on any university property.
Even those who work in dispatch must do countless hours of on-site training to know how to deal with medical emergency situations, campus chaos, etc.
Kristina Dubberly, a junior nursing student and master dispatch for Public Safety said the job can be stressful, but she enjoys how close it draws her to her coworkers.
“You get to know everyone so well when working front gate; we’re a little family,” Dubberly said.
Chisom said each day varies based on the calls dispatch receives.
He said he’s been on calls to fix vending machines, water leaks, broken air conditioning units, loose dogs, emergency alarms, suspicious men on campus and cars that refuse to start.
“No day is ever the same,” Chisom said.
Gabriel Brea de la Cruz, a senior actuary science major and master dispatch for Public Safety, explained that Public Safety has someone available at all times.
Whether it’s a dead battery, a flat tire or keys locked inside, a dispatch officer can have someone sent over.
“[We] are trying to serve the university family,” De la Cruz said. “We are security, but we’re also servants.”
Chisom reminded students that their cooperation helps Public Safety do their job to the best of their ability.
“We need to have the mindset of ‘You’re a student; I’m a student, and this doesn’t make me any better than you,’” Chisom said.
“Remember that even though we are peers, we have a job, and it’s not something that we always enjoy doing, enforcing the rules, but it is a necessity,” Chisom said. “Be willing to work with us. Help us to make the gears run smoothly.”
All employees, students and visitors are expected to report any type of criminal activity, traffic accidents, medical emergencies, fires or suspicious activity of any type to the Public Safety dispatcher by dialing ext. 1111.
Anyone may also report any campus emergency in person to the Public Safety official on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the front entrance onto campus.
For non-emergency calls such as car trouble or res hall let-ins, dial ext. 5911.
Security, fire and emergency pandemic plans are available on the intranet home page under the Student Life tab.