UNA campus safety programs educate, protect students

For first-time college students and their parents, the move to a new home can be scary. The UNA Police Department works to suppress those fears by providing a safe atmosphere on campus.

With 12 sworn officers, about 15 reserve officers and a trained K9, the department is no group of mall cops.

“We are certified, academy-accredited police officers,” said Interim Chief Mark Parker. “The average amount of training for officers in Alabama is less than 20 hours per year. The officers here at the university get between 85 and 125 hours every year.”

The Police Department offers a variety of services — from self-defense training to emergency alerts, and active shooter training to campus escorts.

The Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol, known to students as SNAP, provides escorts across campus between 8:30 p.m. and 2 a.m. during the fall and spring semesters. With a quick call to the Police Department students, faculty or staff members can receive a ride in a police golf cart or a walking escort to any place on campus.

“It’s proven individuals are more likely to be targeted by crime than groups,” Parker said.

When a weather emergency, such as a tornado warning or winter weather advisory, presents a danger to campus, the Police Department issues a Lion Alert. These email, text or phone call notifications are reserved only for emergency purposes or school closing announcements. If a crime occurs on campus and the police determine a threat remains to the campus community, they will issue an alert.

“We’ll never use the Lion Alert for general notifications,” Parker said. “They are only for things that demand immediate attention. If you get a Lion Alert, there’s something you really need to look at.”

The Police Department also offers A.L.I.C.E. training for students. The acronym stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate, and serves as a reminder of what to do if you encounter an active shooter.

“The reason why we started this program here is for self-defense,” said UNA Police Sgt. Terry Parker. “People tend to think that if they lock the doors, hide and wait for the police, everything will be fine. It usually never works out that way. This program goes beyond that. This program says, ‘locking the door is the start of defense.’”

The class is held once per month and is open to the university community. Student groups can also schedule training through the Police Department.

Rape Aggression Defense, or R.A.D., is aimed at teaching students to defend themselves from attackers. Instructor Shequanda Jenkins teaches the eight-hour program, which is typically split into two four-hour sessions. The hands-on training teaches maneuvers, tactics and techniques that allow women to fight off or avoid attacks. Being aware of potential dangers and situations that could threaten personal

safety is also an objective of the course.

“Statistics show that sometime during your lifetime, most all people are going to be a victim of some type of crime,” Mark Parker said. “Even if you don’t have to use it here on campus, the lessons you’ll learn from either our A.L.I.C.E. training or our R.A.D. training can benefit you throughout your entire life. They’re skills and techniques that you can take with you, and you might use them years down the road to protect you and your family.”