Safety & Security (Prepare and Be Aware)
Columbia College Chicago: Testing New ID Checkpoints
- By Lauren Kostiuk
- April 1st, 2016
Columbia College Chicago’s campus
saw three reported high-risk crimes in the
month of March, including one shooting
and one stabbing, which resulted in Chicago
Police Department (CPD) investigations. The
individuals allegedly involved in the crimes
are not affiliated with the college, according
to the college-wide crime alerts. The crimes
account for three of the estimated 29 crimes
committed since early January in popular
areas of the college’s urban Chicago campus.
During the same time period last year, the
college recorded 24 crimes on its campus.
The most frequent crimes include 13
instances of theft from buildings and individuals,
six instances of assault and battery, and
three instances of criminal damage of vehicles
and property, according to the data set.
“There are spikes and valleys in crime
across the city,” says Ron Sodini, associate vice
president of Campus Safety & Security. “The
city is very large, and we are one of the most
safe police districts in the city.”
Sodini says college-wide alerts are sent
when the college determines a situation may
pose a continuing threat to the campus and
its students. He adds that Columbia only has
authority and jurisdiction over its own properties,
so CPD handles instances that occur on
sidewalks and streets and communicates with
the college when needed.
“We are a campus security department, but
we are not a police department,” Sodini says.
IN-PERSON ACCESS CONTROL
In a recent push to enhance campus security,
the college has begun testing an access
control pilot program requiring students and
faculty to show identification before entering
a campus-owned building.
The program began in late January. After
receiving positive feedback from the college
community, the college extended the program
on March 1 to additional campus facilities.
Sodini says the reason for choosing the initial
buildings included in the program was the
layout of their lobbies: because they had one
entrance and high-volume traffic of students,
faculty, staff and visitors.
John Green, chair of the Theatre Department,
says the program is a good first step
and he is pleased with how Sodini has
requested feedback from faculty, staff and
students about the new process. He adds
that his only concern is checking IDs will not
fully prevent theft.
Sodini says the college is evaluating where
to next expand the program. The program
faces logistical challenges, like layouts of
lobbies, high traffic volume and multiple
Columbia’s security team also patrols the
campus with one security vehicle, by foot, or
on bike or Segway, depending on the weather.
“We do provide a presence on the street,
but our authority by law is limited,” Sodini
says. “It is important that everyone realizes
they have a role in safety and security.”
To bring decades of police experience
to campus, the college began recruiting
retired police officers in the fall of 2015 to
join the security team. So far, the college has
recruited eight part-time security officers with
backgrounds from CPD, University of Illinois at
Chicago and University of Chicago.
Security teams from local colleges, such
as Columbia, the School of the Art Institute of
Chicago, DePaul University, Roosevelt University
and Robert Morris University, gather about
every two months to share and present new
practices, ideas and security issues in the area,
according to Sodini.
This information is excerpted from The Columbia Chronicle, a student-produced publication of Columbia College Chicago (www.columbiachronicle.com) and used with permission.
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of College Planning & Management.
Lauren Kostiuk is a reporter for The Columbia Chronicle, a student-produced publication of Columbia College Chicago (www.columbiachronicle.com).