By Matthew Boyle | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Mary Elizabeth Fair
PHOTO CAPTION: College security responds after Christopher Tackett, a man from Georgetown, Ky., punches a security guard after stealing a loaf of bread.
Assistant Director of Security at Flagler College Allan Howard had not experienced criminal violence since his retirement from an almost 30-year career from the Newark, NJ Police Department until Friday, Feb. 13.
“I’ve been here for 14 years and never had anything happen like that before,” Howard said.
Howard responded to a call from the Dining Hall that said a student left the room with a loaf of bread. He caught up with the individual in question, Christopher Tackett of Georgetown, Ky., and asked if he was a student and to show his ID.
According to Howard, Tackett gave him his Kentucky driver’s license. He then asked Tackett to follow him to figure out what exactly happened. Tackett allegedly let go of the loaf of bread he was holding and struck Howard on the left side of his face with his fist.The incident occurred outside Kenan Hall, on the West Lawn, in front of an audience of students, faculty and staff.
“Violence isn’t a shock to me but unexpected violence is a shock to anybody,” Howard said.
According to the Flagler administration and handbook, the Flagler College campus is private property and only authorized persons are allowed to be on campus.
“Obviously, as a tourist site, we’re a little more cognizant of people being on campus but, overall, it’s a very safe campus,” Dean of Student Services Daniel Stewart said.
Most students agree they feel safe. “There’s never been a point where I’ve felt unsafe on campus,” sophomore business administration major Evan Murphy said.
“If it’s at night, [being off campus] is a little bit more risky,” freshman elementary education major Becky Dixon said.”
Security noted they make the first judgment and determination as to whether somebody belongs on campus or not and have the authority to ask for their student ID to ensure the safety of the entire college community.
“That’s why it’s so important that students carry their IDs, because that is the verification to security. And to not take offense when security says, ‘Can I see your ID,’ because they’re here to protect us,” Stewart said.
Flagler College has also recently hired a consulting firm, American Homeland Security Consulting Group, to help improve security policies and procedures on campus.
“We’ve already taken some of their suggestions. The tower system that was implemented over Christmas break, that was part of their recommendation,” Stewart said.
The tower system is a security measure where two different sounds are made to alert the campus of two types of emergencies, either weather or security related.
Stewart said that American Homeland Security Consulting Group has, in conjunction with the college, organized a “tabletop exercise” to test the college’s efficiency in handling emergency situations towards the end of March. Stewart declined to release the exact date of the exercise.
The local police department and Flagler College Security Office will take place in the mock exercise, as well as anyone else who would be involved in an emergency situation.
Stewart urges students to use the college’s resources, should they feel unsafe on campus. “There’s three sources,” he said. “One is a member of the administration, if they’re available, two is resident advisors, and, third, of course, is security.”
Because of the close-knit social environment of the small college campus that Flagler provides, each situation involving a security or emergency issue is different and unique and no particular protocol would work here, according to Stewart.
“I’ll still think we’re a very safe campus,” he said.