Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pierce County programs support Campus Safety

By Alison Haywood, Copy Editor

Pacific Lutheran students know to call Campus Safety when their safety and security are jeopardized, but who does Campus Safety call when a situation gets out of hand?

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and Central Pierce Fire & Rescue both support Campus Safety when an occurrence exceeds Campus Safety’s jurisdiction. The Sheriff’s Department responds to crimes, theft and violence or threats of violence and provides additional resources, including investigative coverage of events. Central Pierce is mostly called upon to respond to medical emergencies and fire alarms, although they also work with various organizations on campus to work on disaster preparedness.

Pierce County Sheriff’s Department

A contract with the Sheriff’s Department established Greg Premo’s position. Premo is Director of Campus Safety as well as a Sergeant at the Sheriff’s Department. “I kind of act as the liaison between Campus Safety and the Sheriff’s Department, as well as providing some of that experience and expertise in the law enforcement side,” Premo said.

And experience does he have. Premo has almost 18 years’ experience in law enforcement. He has worked as a patrol officer, canine handler, civil unit deputy, in the marine services unit, and was promoted to Sergeant in 2007. His most recent career is Director of Campus Safety at PLU. Cut this paragraph first if you’re low on space.

Premo said the main role of Campus Safety is to be the first responders to an incident on campus. If an incident involves threats of violence, then they need to call in law enforcement, and it involves a student policy violation, they file a report to send to Student Conduct.

Campus Safety does not have any jurisdiction off-campus and advises students to call 911 in case of an emergency.

Premo is also the point of contact for emergency respondents when an incident is happening near campus. That’s how he found out about the gunman on Wheeler street last September, which prompted him to instigate a campus-wide lockdown. “That’s another one of my goals, is to kind of be the eyes and ears of the university for issues that are happening around the campus, not necessarily on the campus,” Premo said.

Central Pierce Fire & Rescue

Although they are not officially contracted with Campus Safety, Pierce County Fire & Rescue also lends support when emergency situations arise. Emergency Programs Manager Jennifer Wamboldt said PLU had to work very closely with the fire department when a small fire broke out in Morken last year. “We had to launch a response, Central Pierce responded, we had to take care of our staff … We have to manage our aspects of it,” Wamboldt said.

When asked what sort of situations Central Pierce responded to, Wamboldt said “anything that affects peoples’ lives, really,” citing medical emergencies, fires and hazardous waste containment. “You name it, there’s all kinds of possibilities,” she said.

Wamboldt emphasized the importance of collaboration between organizations when preparing for emergency response. She said there will be a training session June 5 between various law enforcement and emergency response agencies to allow them to practice their procedures. “Because we are training together, we’re planning together, we’re exercising together, when something really does happen, it enables us to kind of just mesh and fold right into each other,” she said. “It makes us more effective.”

Wamboldt said one of Central Pierce’s regular PLU-related duties was responding to the annual fire drill. She said despite the drill’s routine nature, she still learned something every year. “It’s always a learning process,” she said.