Students walk across campus each day at Baldwin Wallace University, passing multiple public phones with bright blue light bulbs and buttons to press, designed specifically to contact the Department of Safety and Security in the case of an emergency.
There are over 16 of these blue light phones on campus where a list of locations for these emergency contact stands can be found on the BW website.
All residence halls also have outdoor phones near their entrances; outdoor phones are just one of the services that BW’s Department of Safety and Security put in place to keep students out of harm’s way.
According to FBI statistics, BW has one of the safest college campuses in Ohio. Safety is a top priority for the school and an important asset for increased enrollment and decreased retention rates. The campus’ reputation, said Dan Mouhlas, safety and security officer, is not that of a party school. Berea maintains a safe environment for both city residents and students. “I joke with people and say BW stands for ‘boring weekends.’ But it’s perfect for the neighborhood, perfect for residents who live here and for everyone involved.” said Mouhlas. “The focus is on education and that’s what it should be.”
The 2018-2019 Crime Log, which can also be found on the BW website, shows that the majority of reported crimes this year were liquor or drug law violations, theft or harassment within or near residence halls.
The Berea Police Department, located in Berea Commons, works closely with campus security to provide the best coverage for the city of Berea and BW’s campus. Safety and Security also maintains solid, communicative relationships with resident advisors and the Department of Building and Grounds.
The Safety and Security office, located on the first floor of the Tudor House at 296 Beech Street, is staffed 24/7 by both security officers and student workers. The Department of Safety and Security hosts a student staff of approximately 25 people.
This staff includes student auxiliaries who provide escorts and general safety services, as well as student dispatchers who answer calls and connect with campus security officers. The officers’ main daily activities include patrolling the campus in cars and helping students who have been locked out of their rooms.
Walking escorts and other forms of help can be ordered on the blue light campus phones at any time of the day. To summon an escort, dial 2336 on any campus phone and tell the dispatcher of your current location and destination.
A security officer or student auxiliary, clad in blue and yellow, will be dispatched to the caller’s destination to provide a walking escort to any campus building or parking lot. For liability reasons, security officers do not transport students in their vehicles unless there are two officers present or in case of an emergency.
For urgent situations other than need for an escort, anyone may dial 2000 on a campus phone or (440) 826-2000 from a non-campus phone and be connected to the Department.
Junior Ben Ladaika, criminal justice major and student dispatcher for Safety and Security, said he receives anywhere from 10-25 calls during a typical four hour shift, depending on the time of day. Most of these calls are requests for help from students who are locked out of their room or car.
Occasionally, serious situations will arise such as overdoses, attempted suicides, and assault, said Ladaika.
One issue that often occurs between students and security officers is the intimidation factor of a person in uniform. The Department of Safety and Security exists to assist and protect BW students and nothing further.
“I think a lot of students come here with their own misconceptions about safety and security and what we’re all about,” said Mouhlas. “We don’t kick down doors and take names. That’s not us, that’s not our profile.”
Tension can arise between the student body and campus security officers simply because of the negative attitude taken on by some students, said Ladaika, and it may be evident that some students do not feel safe enough and would appreciate improvements within the department.
“I think we can improve on relations with the student body,” said Ladaika. “Most situations we are involved in are negative, so if we can show that we are good people we may get a better perception from the student body.”
A concern that the university has is the number of unreported campus crimes, and some incidences that are reported too late to handle. Lateness is the primary reason for any lack of action by the department.
Katy May, safety and security officer, said “We’re here to keep the campus safe and we need to know about things ‘asap.’ Even if they think it’s nothing, it could be something. You come to us immediately with any problem or concern you have.”