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Alcohol number one campus security risk

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Friday, November 11, 2011

So just returned from a visit with the Randy Nichols, the director of safety and security at Bowdoin College up here in Maine. It's always great to sit down with a director, one-on-one, and really hear some of the issues he or she faces on a daily basis.

We discussed a variety of concerns including some of the hot topics like active shooters and IP camera systems, but when asked what his most significant concern was, the answer was alcohol. Now, I went to college, I remember how prevalent alcohol was for those of any age, but for some reason it never clicked that alcohol was such a direct security concern. Prior to his role as director, Nichols spent 27 years with the Maine State Police and said that nearly every incident he investigated, whether it was a car accident, assault or robbery, was directly associated with alcohol. And those concerns followed him into his current role. He said that all his officers are specifically trained in alcohol awareness, which makes so much sense, but it just had never occurred to me as a substantial part of a security training program. We all have our ah ha moments, I guess.

Nichols also discussed some unique initiatives he has developed for his security program including creating a career ladder for his officers. In order to move to the next level (and the next pay stage, I'm assuming) officers are required to be active in an ongoing community project. Nichols explained that while this initiative is required for career progression, officers can design their own program and choose how they want to be involved in the college community. For example, one officer is involved in the outing club and is working toward his wilderness guide certification, side-by-side with students. Nichols said this initiative gets officers directly involved with students and helps to break down the barrier between security and students. That is pretty much Nichols message as director: He wants students to feel like they can approach him and his officers and aren't afraid security is out to get them. To ensure students know who he is, Nichols meets with every incoming freshman in a small group setting during orientation.

In other interesting news, Bowdoin will be unveiling a new one card system which they will be activating over the winter holiday. To learn more about this, be sure to check out our January issue.