By Amanda Hatfield
BREVARD -- The campuses of one local college will soon be safer, thanks to a new partnership between Brevard Community College and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.
On Feb. 2, BCC President, Dr. Jim Richey, and Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey announced the new safety measures, in coordination with the college, Sheriff's Office, local police and fire departments, as well as Brevard County Fire Rescue.
"Nothing is more important than the safety of our students, faculty, staff and any member of the public, who comes onto our campuses," Dr. Richey said in a press release.
The announcement of the new safety measures comes at a critical time, as BCC will become a state college on July 1.
These enhancements are one part of a review of all BCC operations that Dr. Richey put in place when he became president in early 2012, with the goal of preparing BCC to offer four-year degrees to its students this August.
When BCC becomes Eastern Florida State College this July, Dr. Richey has a detailed blueprint to outline the changes in security.
Steps include opening police substations on BCC's four campuses -- Titusville, Cocoa, Melbourne and Palm Bay -- in order to better protect the 35,000 students, faculty and staff.
"The new measures will strengthen the security practices we already have in place and better prepare the college and law enforcement to respond rapidly in an emergency," Dr. Richey said. "We're working closely with the Sheriff's Office and police and fire departments to create a comprehensive approach to safety."
In the works since fall 2012, BCC associate vice president of communications John Glisch said many plans are already in the final stages.
"We're currently waiting on the police substations to receive final law enforcement approval," Mr. Glisch said. "In the coming weeks, more changes will occur."
With many changes taking place, some things will remain the same at BCC.
"The college's 48 active security officers will also continue to provide around-the-clock protection for our four campuses, playing a key role in safeguarding the college, while expanding their already excellent working relationship with law enforcement," Dr. Richey said.
Security officers will not have to go through additional training to come up to speed with the changes happening at BCC.
"All of our security personnel have backgrounds in law enforcement," Mr. Glisch said. "Some have worked in law enforcement, while others have been active in the military police."
An increase in campus security has become a critical issue in the wake of the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
The brutal slayings have "further reinforced the need to do everything possible to protect people on our campuses," Dr. Richey said.
The Brevard County Sheriff's Office will lead coordination efforts with Brevard County Fire Rescue, as well as local police and fire departments.
Along with establishing police substations on each campus, BCC's plan also includes:
Conducting comprehensive security reviews of each campus and familiarizing themselves with campus layouts
Integrating the college's emergency response plan with the Sheriff's Office and municipal police and fire departments
Leading coordinated crisis-response training exercises with college officials
Offering crime awareness training for new BCC students as well as current students, faculty and staff
Developing awareness programs at each campus for Brevard residents, which will provide valuable crime prevention information.
Sheriff Ivey said he is looking forward to the partnership the Sheriff's Office has formed with BCC.
"This renewed focus and partnership will reinforce security measures that are based on an existing foundation, forged by our outstanding relationship with BCC and the entire public safety community," Sheriff Ivey said in a press release.
The goals of BCC's security changes are consistent with the partnership recently established between the Sheriff's Office and Brevard County School Board, Sheriff Ivey added.
"These efforts are designed not only to ensure that our educational environment is safe, but, more importantly, this partnership will result in better preparing our citizens to protect themselves," Sheriff Ivey said. "A well-informed community is a safer community."
For more information, contact Maj. James Woolsey of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office at (321) 633-7172, and John Glisch at (321) 433-7017 or firstname.lastname@example.org.