The University of West Georgia (UWG) police believe the campus is safe for students and staff, despite the increase of violent crime near the campus. Crime on campus itself is low, but crimes have been reported throughout the month of December and January near the campus, most notably the double shooting at Rivers Edge Apartment complex on Dec. 4, 2015.
Incidents, like what happened at Rivers Edge, do not occur frequently, but when they do, they always raise questions and concerns about safety. The shooting started in an apartment room in Building A. Several shots were fired, including one that caused damage to a neighboring apartment. The suspects were forced outside where more shots were fired.
“It is really scary to just be doing whatever in your apartment when all of a sudden a bullet comes through the wall,” said Brittany Pierce, a witness to the December shooting.
“Someone really could have gotten hurt, or worse,” said Rivers Edge resident Nikki Whiten. “If certain people in my apartment had moved two feet over, they would have been hit.”
UWG police maintain a constant presence on campus and typically have between four and five squad cars patrolling the streets. That way, in the unlikely event that something does happen, officers can be on the scene almost immediately. Police are equipped with First-Aid Trauma kits to assist a wounded victim while waiting for paramedics arrive.
“Because our officers have these kits, they have the training and the tools to provide medical assistance as soon as they arrive,” said Chief of UWG Police Thomas Mackel. “Police almost always arrive on scene before EMT’s do, and it is very important that they can assist a victim right away. If somebody is seriously injured, every second counts.”
Police also patrol vehicles driving around campus and will stop cars if they detect suspicious activity.
“Most of our stops end up being alcohol-related, but we were in fact able to confiscate a dozen guns that were obtained illegally this past semester,” said Mackel.
University officials also work with local police to coordinate times when they will need increased security at events, such as high-profile concerts and football games, especially the NCAA Football Quarterfinals on Dec. 5, 2015, the day after the Rivers Edge Shooting.
UWG has teamed up with the Georgia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (GACLEA). This organization links all the colleges and universities in the state together so they can communicate and send information to each other. GACLEA is mainly used for preventing crime across campuses. Every state has its own version of Campus Law Enforcement Administration, and there is even a national branch if a situation between schools in other states ever arises.
UWG police are always available to protect students and staff in a number of different ways. Students are encouraged to sign up for the Wolf Guardian alert system to receive text message notifications if and when an incident occurs on campus. The blue-lighted “EMERGENCY” poles scattered around campus can also be utilized if a student feels in danger on campus.