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The Blue & Gray Press | May 23, 2017

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Unmarked Cars on Patrol in Parking Lots

Jessica Masulli and Eric Steigleder

Jessica Masulli and Eric Steigleder

By SARAH SANDERS

Out of concern for the safety of students, UMW has decided to increase the number of campus security guards on duty during the evening hours.

With the limited number of on-campus parking spots as a result of the construction projects on campus, students have been forced to park their vehicles off-campus, resulting in longer distances for students to walk both during daylight and evening hours.

“We received several comments regarding the level of safety students feel from this situation,” Executive Director of Police and Security Services Mark Sandor said. “We take comments and concerns from students very seriously.”

As a result of the concerns raised, the campus security services re-evaluated their current security plan and decided to add additional security guards to the Sunken Road and Battlefield parking areas in addition to the guards currently stationed at the parking deck.

“There will still be two guards at the parking deck,” Sandor said, “There will be guards on patrol there [parking deck], along Sunken Road [near the parking deck] and the Battlefield area from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.”

These hours will be in effect during the course of the entire school year, with the exception of winter break.

“While I think the parking situation is very inconvenient, it’s not like I really ever don’t feel safe,” sophomore Teresa Yao said.

The Allied Barton Security Services company of Richmond provides security guards for the campus. While it may patrol the campus, the company is independent of UMW and is responsible for hiring and scheduling the guards that are to be patrolling the areas. This outside contract has resulted in a lack of official vehicles for security guards to use during their patrol.

“Security guards will be both on foot and in their personal vehicles for the immediate future,” Sandor said.

Campus security services are working with Allied Barton to have the vehicles identified in some way so students are able to distinguish these vehicles from personal vehicles.

While the vehicles may not be discernable, Sandor said students can identify Allied guards by the shoulder patches worn by all security guards. Another characteristic Sandor said is a uniform that will be worn by the guards, consisting of a light blue shirt and dark blue pants.

“Since they’ve added more guards, I have rarely seen them,” sophomore Tricia Elliott said, “If they want to put them there, that’s cool, I just haven’t seen a big difference.”

While it is intended for the presence of these security guards to make students feel safer in the evening hours, campus security services still advises students who are uncomfortable with walking back to their dorms in the dark to call UMW Escort System.

Although the system appears to be working well according to security services, they have yet to receive any official feedback.

“Our goal is to be somewhat transparent. We want to enhance the community…we don’t want to make it feel like Big Brother is watching all the time…we just want a safe environment for our students,” Sandor said.

Due to budget cuts, it is uncertain whether the additional security service will continue when construction is done.

“We will re-evaluate the situation at the end of the year,” Sandor said. “We will definitely be continuing with the parking deck, but will have to see what the situation looks like after renovations and construction has been finished on campus.”

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