By Karaline Harrell
Anytime a student feels unsafe or threatened while walking around campus, they do not have to walk alone.
In many cases, such as custody battles or harassment, students feel uncomfortable being on campus grounds alone, particularly late at night. Campus Safety has developed an escort system that will put students at ease and ultimately make them feel safe.
“With around 11,000 students, we do have some issues in their personal life, and they may crop up here on campus. It could be such things as divorce and other things. That person may or may not be a student that may come up here to confront you on campus,” said Chief of Police Randy Melton.
Chief Melton does ask that students report legal issues, such as restraining orders, beforehand in order to take action against anyone stopping a student’s opportunity to learn freely.
“Any concerns about safety and security a student or an employee has, we want to know. We want to make sure you feel safe on campus, that way you can think about your education — think about good grades without having to look over your shoulder,” Melton said.
Sophomore Taylor Thompson has been escorted by a TJC security officer and appreciates their willingness to help.
“At first I thought it would be awkward having a cop I don’t know walk me to my car, but they’re actually really nice,” said Thompson.
Officer Keith Shuemake says he escorts students a couple times a week and wants students to feel comfortable calling him.
“There aren’t any hard and fast rules about when you need to call. In the evening we have an on-call cell phone, so we trade the phone out. If someone calls and needs an escort, I’ll go and do it myself without saying anything to anybody,” said Shuemake.
Any student who is travelling to campus and wishes to be escorted is encouraged to call between five to 10 minutes before reaching campus. This way a student can plan a meeting place with the officer.
Aside from the escort system, always traveling in groups and keeping the Campus Police phone number handy are the best ways to stay safe. Students are not allowed to carry defense mechanisms, such as pepper spray or Tasers. After a class, he or she is encouraged to stay inside the building rather than wait outside for someone to walk with them.
“The biggest suggestion, both male and female, is just to be aware of your surroundings. Typically when people come out of class they get on their phones. Be aware of your surroundings. Not paranoid, just aware. Look up occasionally. If someone wants to hurt you, they want to go for the easiest target they can find,” said Shuemake.
To use the escort system, call Campus Police at 903-510-2222. Although this is the emergency line, it is the quickest way to access an officer for accompaniment.