A man was arrested on Sept. 6 for allegedly threatening his girlfriend with a gun on campus at the University of West Georgia (UWG). While the thought of someone wielding a dangerous weapon on campus can be unsettling, especially with incidents such as those at Florida State University still on the mind, should students be concerned?
“We very seldom have [incidents on campus involving] guns,” said Thomas Mackel, UWG Chief of Police. “We may [see a case involving] a gun every three or four years.”
The number of guns seen on campus did rise during the 2014-2015 year, when police confiscated two Glocks and an AK-47 from some students during the spring semester, but Mackel maintains that guns on campus are outside the norm for UWG.
“Our most common crime is theft or burglary,” he said. “A lot of our burglaries can be prevented if people would just lock their doors.”
Many burglars on campus find their targets by walking through residence halls and jiggling doorknobs until they find a door that opens, and many thefts are of items left unattended.
“A campus is a fantastic place to commit crime, because people trust each other,” said Mackel.
Aside from theft and burglaries, most crimes on campus tend to relate to alcohol and drugs.
“Marijuana is the predominant drug we have on campus,” Mackel said. “We have gotten a few odd things recently, like ecstasy, but it’s mostly marijuana.”
While Mackel gave the impression that violent crimes are not something students need worry about, it is still important to know what to do in any kind of emergency. The first thing is to remember to call the campus police rather than 911.
“If you call 911, they’re going to call us,” said Mackel. “We’re already here, and we know the campus. We have access to all the buildings.”
There are 53 emergency phones posted around campus. These phones connect directly to public safety dispatch at the push of a button and are for emergency situations as well as less dire situations, such as car trouble. However, the emergency phones have their limitations.
“Before cell phones, [the emergency phones] were fine,” he said. “But you’re always not going to remember where one is in an emergency, and you’re not going to hang around waiting for the call to connect if someone is chasing you.”
Due to these limitations, Mackel suggests that students sign up for Wolf Guardian, a free service provided by UWG.
“Wolf Guardian turns your cell phone into a panic button,” he said. “You hit that button, your picture pops up, the GPS map pops up, and we know exactly where you’re at on campus.”
To begin using the Wolf Guardian service, simply download the Rave Guardian app through your phone’s app store. After the app has been installed, input your student email and create an account at Smart911.com, which powers the app. You can provide as much or as little information about yourself as you would like, but the more detailed you are, the more it may help the police in the event of an emergency.