DOOR STUDY, OUTREACH PART OF CAMPUS SAFETY CAMPAIGN
By Forrest Malloy President/Editor-in-Chief
Signs such as this one outside an entrance to James Williams Hall were posted across campus in March. Locked building doors across GTCC's campuses have shaken up student, faculty, and staff routines, but officials say the move will keep everyone safer in the long run.
In late March, many building doors were shuttered, limiting the number of entrance options for each building. Signs were posted ahead of th e closing to notify the campus community of the pending closures.
Gene Sapino, GTCC Campus Police Chief, implemented the door locking as part of a program he calls a door study. Sapino said that he will “take a serious look at our ability as a college to secure facilities in the event of an emergency.”
The doors being locked are outside doors that don’t have high visibility upon entry. They lead to stairwells or other places where someone could easily hide. Locking them forces those looking to cause harm to use higher-visibility entrances.
Once the door study concludes, those doors that will remain unlocked will be equipped with electronic locks, currently identifiable by mechanisms with green and red lights. These doors can be locked all at once remotely in the case of an emergency.
Sapino's measures come on the heels of a year that saw a record number of school shootings. While GTCC did not experience any gun violence in 2021, gun-related crimes were reported near GTCC campuses on two occasions, and there were forty-two such acts in schools nationwide, according to the Washington Post. Auto accidents and damage to property accounted for the majority of crimes reported on GTCC campuses last year, according to the college's daily crime logs.
Police and the Community
The door study is one of several measures that Sapino has undertaken since he joined GTCC last year. He said he is also attempting to build lasting relationships with students, faculty, and staff. "If the first time you’re seeing us is during an emergency, we’ve failed," Sapino said. "You should know me before you need me.”
Sapino also said campus safety was a team effort and emphasized a "see something, say something" approach. “You don’t have to tell us [campus police]," he said. "Tell a teacher, another student, a faculty member, or anyone. Tell someone when you see something unsafe.”
Beyond promoting campus safety, Sapino noted that campus police offers “wear many hats” and can help with a multitude of things. For instance, they can investigate certain crimes which take place off-campus between students and act as a liaison between someone who needs help and local law enforcement agencies.
Similarly, the blue call boxes on GTCC campus can be used for more than just emergencies. If you lock your keys in your car, need a jump, or simply can’t find your car in the sea of vehicles after a long day, dispatch will send an officer to help you in under five minutes. The blue boxes are tested monthly, and someone from campus police is on the Jamestown campus 24/7 every single day of the year. Greensboro and Cameron campuses have police on campus until 11:30 at night. However, anytime you press a call button on a blue box, someone will pick up the line for you.
With over 30,000 students to keep safe, the campus police ask we bond together as a vigilant team effort.
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IN PROFILE: CAMPUS POLICE
My name is Gene Sapino, and I am currently the Chief of Campus Police at GTCC. I am a family man, committed to my faith and my family. I would describe myself as honest, committed, and fair. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and working.
I was born in Warren Michigan and relocated to South Florida as a child. I attended public school and graduated in 1989. I attended Georgia Southern University in the fall of 1989 on a cross-country scholarship. In 1993, I graduated with a degree in education.
Upon graduation from GSU, I secured a position as a schoolteacher while applying for a position with law enforcement agencies in South Florida. In May of 1995, I was hired by the Delray Beach police department. I worked for the City of Delray Beach Police Department for the past 26 years. In the winter of 2020, I had the privilege to attend the FBI National Academy. On September 1, 2021, I was hired as the Chief of Police for GTCC.
I am currently living in Jamestown NC and seeking a graduate degree from Grand Canyon University.
My name is Bridget Hardy, and I am the newest telecommunicator for the GTCC campus police. I started here on February 1st. I came here from Guilford Metro 911 after being a 911 dispatcher for 3 ½ years. I am a graduate of North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC. I obtained my degree in Political Science and then moved to Greensboro and began a career at Aetna Insurance, started as a claims processor, and worked in many different positions. I retired from there after 20+ years and decided to become a dispatcher because I enjoy helping people.
My name is Lenora Taylor. I am the administrative assistant in the campus police office. My employment began in the Fall of 2000 as a work-study in the office. After graduating from GTCC with my criminal justice degree, I began working full-time. I never thought I would be working on my twentieth year here at GTCC, but on the other hand, I can’t see myself anywhere else!
During my time at GTCC, I have gone back to school to obtain an undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Winston Salem State University. I also obtained a graduate degree in Criminal Justice from Liberty University.
I currently work under the direction of Chief Gene Sapino and with some pretty awesome police officers. Here in campus police, we strive to make interactions with the faculty, staff, and students pleasant. Greeting people with courtesy, respect, and a smile is my motto. Everyone deserves a pleasant and supportive greeting.
For those who are not aware, we relocated from Medlin to our lakefront property, the Service Careers building, in 2020. Please stop by and say hello the next time you are nearby.