The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation releases an annual report in which they evaluate safety and security on college campuses across the state. Every time an incident occurs, it must be reported to the state. Each year, the data is compiled and released to the public in two reports – the TBI report and the Clery Act reports.
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, more commonly referred to as the Clery Act, releases comparative data over a three-year time span. In this year’s case, the report showed data from 2011, 2012 and 2013.
The report shows four weapons arrests were made in 2013.
“This is for the two bottle bombs, or chemical reaction devices, that were set off in various places on campus on two nights, Sept. 22 and Sept. 26, 2013,” said Melissa Hopper, secretary for Safety & Security. “Union security officers worked closely with the Jackson Police Department, and in mid-October, four individuals were arrested and charged with two counts each of disorderly conduct.”
The most prevalent crime Union reports though is burglary. In this report, there were seven incidents. Of those seven incidents, four were in residence complexes and three were categorized as on campus property.
In one incident, an unknown intruder gained access to an on-campus apartment through an unlocked window. Because three of the bedroom doors were unlocked in that apartment, he or she took two expensive pieces of jewelry and several other items, totaling over $900.
“If an offender unlawfully enters three dorm rooms of a student housing facility for the purpose of taking something, then we are required to count this as three burglaries,” said Hopper.
Yancey Pettigrew, director for safety, security and risk mitigation, said students can guard themselves against theft and other crimes by practicing situational awareness.
“This means that you intentionally participate in creating a safe environment for yourself by being aware of who and what is around you,” said Pettigrew. “Park in well-lit areas, use the ‘buddy system,’ don’t leave valuables unattended in the car or anywhere else.”
Robbie Graves, assistant vice president for undergraduate admissions, said questions about on-campus security are rare, but prospective students and their families often ask about the safety of Jackson and Union’s location in the city.
“We are quick to reassure students that Union is located in a very safe area of our city and that we hire well-trained and well-qualified security officers that are Union employees and must meet the same faith requirements and hiring standards of any other employee,” Graves said. “We feel very confident about our security team at Union and enthusiastically commend them to our prospective students and families.”
Some of the tactics Pettigrew said Safety & Security uses to keep the campus safe include training initiatives, around-the-clock patrolling, nonstop availability, gate management and cameras.
Pettigrew has been on staff at Union for 14 months. He is an alumnus as well as the son and grandson of alumni. He served in the United States Air Force for 23 years, much of which was spent flying as a C-17 Loadmaster. Being in the Air Force took him all over the world.
He said he has had training in personal and travel security that he has applied to the numerous programs that take the members of the Union community abroad.
“My vision for safety at UU is to continue to provide the helpful services that we are known for and to increase the tangible and intangible ways that we protect the Union community,” Pettigrew said. “Help us to help you by being proactive in your attitude towards your own safety and security and that of your neighbor.”
More detailed information from the reports can be found at the Safety & Security website.
Students and faculty are encouraged to contact Safety and Security at 731-394-2922 if they become aware of any suspicious activity on campus.