How safe is Trevecca?

By Brennen Finchum & Justin Cockrell

In the summer of 2006, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department got a call that there were two armed men in Benson Hall.

It was while Trevecca was hosting a singing group with a couple hundred guests on campus. One family was staying in Benson when their son ran into the room and said there were two men with guns in the hallway.

The mother immediately dialed 911.

Metro police then notified campus security.

Norm Robinson, chief of security, said he told one of his employees at the time that it was probably some students playing assassins, a game where students dress up in black and shoot people with a non-lethal gun (airsoft, water, Nerf, etc.).

Robinson met Metro in the Benson parking lot, and they searched the dorms, finding out from other students that there were guys playing assassins.

They weren’t caught that night but were later found. Though no one was harmed or in any danger, the incident did call for a policy change,  Robinson said.

It took an innocent misunderstanding to invoke serious changes to the way security was handled.

Toy guns were banned on campus, but there was also increased measures of security communication.

Since then, security has implemented a siren and a text messaging system that alerts students and guests of any dangers on campus, whether criminal or natural disasters.

What they do

The security department, which has five full time employees and three part-time employees, is responsible for everything from jumping car batteries to patrolling campus.

Norm Robinson, who has been with the department for more than 20 years, said he is proud of the safety record at Trevecca.

“In my 21 years here, there have been 20 arrests,” Robinson said.

Those arrests include incidents like trespassing and theft from vehicles. The most recent arrest on campus was the book thief this summer.

Trevecca officers spend a majority of their time patrolling the campus, securing buildings and doing service acts like unlocking rooms and offices, Jason Millsap, Trevecca security officer, said.

Each year security releases a report about security incidents on campus.  Most years it consists of things like theft from vehicles parked on campus and trespassing.

The security officers use every means available to them to make sure life on campus is the least worrisome it can be.

“The way I see it, Trevecca is my home, my family, and I’m going to do anything I can to protect my home and family,” Millsap said.

That doesn’t just include keeping the campus of approximately 980 people free of crime.

“[Our job] is a service that we provide for the students here, and we have to look at it that way. We try to take a Christ-like mentality into our job,” he said.

In order to do that and do it well, the security officers also all have to meet certain qualifications set by both the state and by Robinson himself.

First, they have to pass a background check by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Accompanying this is Robinson’s own background check, which seeks to learn the candidate’s morals. When these two exams are passed, a written test over laws and procedures is taken.

The process isn’t over once this test is passed. The officers have to undergo a day of nonlethal weapons training that certifies them to carry a baton. They must do this to become an official Trevecca security officer.

These trained officers also work closely with Metro police who are a key contributor to the level of safety at Trevecca.

“[Metro] just considers us and the [Trevecca Towers] a community where there can be an almost immediate response,” President Dan Boone said.

Students and faculty are just as essential to campus security as the officers are.

“We firmly believe in the ‘many eyes’ approach to campus security,” Millsap said, “If you see something, call it in. With 1500 [pairs of] eyes on campus, it’s nearly impossible for anything criminal to happen here.”

Even with the care for the community, the stringent hiring process and the good relationship with Metro Police, safety will always be relative.

“It’s always relative. You could fall in the shower,” Robinson said.

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