Each institution was honored for their innovative uses of technology and other campus security improvements made in recent years.
The Clery Award, established in 1994, recognizes individuals and institutions for taking extraordinary actions to make students safe. It is given annually by SOC in honor of co-founders Connie and Howard Clery's daughter Jeanne, who was brutally raped and murdered on the Lehigh University campus in 1986. The federal campus crime reporting law, the Jeanne Clery Act, is also named in her memory.
"The University of Bridgeport uses innovative technology to make every one on campus the eyes and ears of the campus security department," Howard K. Clery III, SOC's executive director and Jeanne's brother, said. "The university provides every student and employee with a personal alarm device that when activated signals the campus security department with their exact location. As a result campus security officers' response time is usually under two minutes. Over time word gets out and criminals know where not to go to commit crime." The PAD system flashes on the security station computer monitor a photograph and description of the PAD holder. Also, the location indicators adjust as the holder moves.
Clery said the SOC honored the University of Pennsylvania "for its innovative technological programs as well as its campus and community patrols." He said the award "lets the rest of the academic world know that schools are fighting campus crime with programs that do work." Clery noted that since 1996, when Penn began using security cameras, there has been a 32 percent decrease in the overall crime rate on the campus.
Also honored with the Clery Award this year was Kate Dieringer, a student at Georgetown University in Washington, for her work to bring about improvements in how her school handles student complaints of sexual assault and other violence.
UB president Neil Albert Salonen praised Securitas Security and April Vournelis, security director for the campus, on winning the award. "The UB campus in Bridgeport's South End is a safe and stable place, and together with Seaside Park, provides an anchor for this whole area of the city. Mrs. Vournelis and her staff have worked diligently to provide our students and staff with that security. We are proud of their achievements and sophistication in bringing about this record for safety.
The award reflects the efforts to make the University of Bridgeport one of the safest campuses in America. The university in January was rated for the second year in a row as the safest campus in Connecticut, based on campus security statistics published by the U.S. Department of Education and based on reports of more than 6,000 colleges and universities in the United States for the calendar year 2001. What accounts for UB's success?
Vournelis, chief of campus security, said, "I truly believe it's the dedication of the people in the department itself, working with an administration that supports us. "
Our security staff gets out and focuses on the environment and the people in this community," Vournelis said. "Their hearts are in the right places, protecting our community and the people who are a part of it. Our officers get to know the people on and around the campus. When they spot someone who does not look as if they belong, they challenge them, sending them off if they do not." "Visibility is key," Vournelis said. "That, and the experience of the department" we have many veteran members in this security staff - are advantages for UB."
The security chief also credited Securitas Security Services, and the Bridgeport and Park police for their assistance and intervention. "We maintain a close relationship with these organizations to better ourselves. Their responses to our needs are usually immediate and precise. This adds to the quality of our department and helps to provide a safer environment for the campus," she said. You can't miss the security force on campus. Officers are on foot, bicycle and motor vehicle patrol, and they develop a welcomed and friendly presence with students.
At UB, the personal alarm device is issued to every student. It's a small, electronic beeper, much like those to open car doors. If a student is fearful of someone or something on campus, he or she presses their beeper. An alarm goes into security headquarters. The student's photograph and location come up on the computer screen, and the dispatcher sends security officers to the scene by radio, with a description of the student. If the student moves, the beeper transmits the new location. "The officers have become familiar with the students and staff and this helps in making a quick and accurate identification of the person requesting help," Vournelis said. "They often surprise me with their knowledge of the people on this campus, their friends, and even what cars they drive."
There are security checkpoints at residence hall entrances as well. And all students living in residence halls have photo identification cards indicating where they live.
"You can never be too safe," Vournelis said. "You work at this constantly. We run safety and security programs for students all year. And the counseling and student services department runs drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. "
I think the results show," she said. "But security concerns and being on alert are our job, and you never let up."