The Santa Fe College Police Department prides itself on keeping its students and faculty safe on campus.
It provides security and protection twenty-four hours a day, 365 days of the year. Whether because of that protection or other factors, its multiple campuses are indeed relatively safe, with only a handful of violent crimes and only two weapons-related arrests reported from 2014 to 2016:
After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14, the department is making sure students, faculty and staff are aware of what to do in emergency situations. The police want students to have a plan of what to do in the event of an active shooter and know who to contact if they see suspicious behavior.
Currently, the college has an emergency notification system in place. It texts, calls and emails students and faculty when there is an urgent announcement.
If there is a threat to the immediate area, sirens throughout the main campus will also go off in warning. This is so everyone is notified to retreat to a safe location.
Another proactive thing the college is doing is having its student’s complete an online safety training during the registration process.
Ryan Woods, captain of the Santa Fe College Police Department, said people often ask him if he thinks Santa Fe College is safe. Even though the data show it largely is, he said the department is taking measures to make it even safer.
“We do individual training for different departments here on (main) campus,” Woods said. “We go get the layout of their area and try to figure out the best way to make it as safe as possible.”
In the case of an active shooter, Woods said students have been told to run, hide and fight, which is the recommendation set by The United States Department of Homeland Security.
Jacobi Bedenfield, a 22-year-old organizational management junior at Santa Fe, said that despite the events in South Florida, he is not afraid to be on the campus near NW 39th Avenue.
“I do feel very safe on campus, our officers are always around,” he said. “They are always here, always present.”
But the college’s administration isn’t just concerned with how students react physically in the aftermath of a shooting, they are also concerned with their psychological well-being.
Lara Zwilling, the coordinator of Santa Fe College’s Counseling Center, said there are students at Santa Fe from South Florida who felt the impact of last week’s shooting. She encourages these students, and anyone else who feels unsafe there, to visit the center and get help from a mental health professional.
Zwilling also said that if students ever see something suspicious on a campus, they need to say something. If a student feels threatened or hears a concerning comment, the police can send a report to its behavioral intervention team which will investigate the tip.
However, despite what happened in Parkland, Woods said the department is not changing its security protocols, but instead looking for ways to expand them.
“We’re always trying to improve our safety, but I wouldn’t say necessarily what we should do should change,” Woods said. “It’s not so much that we’re doing anything differently, it’s reassuring folks of what we do have.”