Security's other side
The importance of campus security has been magnified by
the recent violent attacks on Bates, in which one student was murdered
and another sexually assaulted. While popular student sentiment may resent
its role in monitoring parties and enforcing parking regulations, a closer
look at Bowdoin Security's operations suggests that it is more of a resource
than some may realize.
There are a total of 14 security personnel here at Bowdoin.
Director Bruce Boucher heads two assistant directors and eleven regular
officers, which are alternately assigned to communications and patrol.
The high number of personnel is due largely to the fact that security
is a round-the-clock operation that functions all 365 days of the year.
As part of my inside look at Bowdoin Security, I had the
opportunity to ride along with Officer Margery Logan for a portion of
her patrol this past Saturday night. It was not just any Saturday night,
mind you, but the second (or third or fourth, depending on your habits)
big night of Ivies Weekend.
My night begins in the Communications Center at Rhodes Hall.
There, a security officer monitors video screens, campus alarm systems,
and answers phone calls. Tucked away in one corner is a computer that
is constantly updated, showing all entries to doors around campus that
require your I.D. card. Recorded is the time and place of entry as well
as the name and I.D. number of the card used to enter.
After she files a report on a fire alarm at Hubbard earlier
in the day, Officer Logan and I head out in Security's ubiquitous white
Jeep. It is charged with a strong smell of beer-that of an unregistered
keg, I learn. From then it's on to patrol the campus
9:08 We check the registered kegs at Pinestock. The crowd
is still very light. Officer Logan comments that the Pine St. Apartments
are one of the better places to hold events as the back just opens out
onto trees and the road.
9:19 Lock up at the Farley Tennis Courts. The Jeep's scanner
is alive with chatter by Brunswick Police officers.
9:26 Someone has propped open one of the back doors to Chamberlain.
Don't prop doors open, because if you do, security will close them.
9:35 Another check of Pine St.. The crowd is growing, and
students' cars line the street.
9:54 While at the Stowe Inn, several students ask Officer
Logan for a ride. While rides from security officers used to be fairly
common, officers will now only give rides if the situations warrant.
10:01 We stop back at the Communications Center to get the
keg numbers for a party in Coles Tower.
10:11 Officer Logan and I are detoured from Coles Tower
to Pine Street, where a student has suffered a sprained ankle.
10:24 We drop off the injured student at Parkview Hospital.
10:26 We finally make it to Coles Tower, where we check
a small private party. Everything's "10-4."
10:37 We stop at a house on College Street for a lock out.
10:44 Like swallows to Capistrano, students keep flocking
to Pinestock. So do Brunswick Police, who have a number of patrol cars
in the area.
10:58 While monitoring Brunswick Police radio traffic, Officer
Logan learns of a student with an injured knee outside the cemetery on
Pine St.. Traveling down Harpswell Road, we turn around and head back
11:34 Some students are starting to head back from Pinestock
and request rides. Again, they are reminded of their options-the escort
service and the Student Government Taxi service.
11:46 Students leaving Pine St. are reminded to finish or
dump their beer before they leave.
11:51 A lone, intoxicated female student is headed down
Bowker Street towards campus. Recognizing the potential for an unsafe
situation, Officer Logan offers her a ride to her residence, which she
While my experience lacked the high drama of a good episode
of COPS or Rescue-911 (granted, I'm no William Shatner), it was an eye-opener
as to the wide variety of calls Bowdoin Security handles. The call log
from January through this past week shows a very busy security team, whether
handling routine unlock requests, investigating a theft or fire alarm
activation, or helping a stranded motorist on campus. The list of calls
indicates an organization designed to help students feel safe, not punish
them for their every wrong turn.
In speaking with Assistant Director of Security Mike Brown,
it becomes clear that measures such as these-taken to ensure safety rather
than "punish" or "get" students-are at the core of
Security's mission. "Our department strives to provide a safe and
secure environment that is responsive to the needs of the College community,"
Brown states. "This manifests itself in ways ranging from the offering
of a Rape Aggression Defense class for women, to the detention of a group
of individuals who are suspected of assaulting a student." Brown
names as one of the biggest challenges to his job the "perception
that we are 'out to get' students in trouble."
One of the things I noticed on my ride-along was the close
working relationship that Bowdoin Security has with the Brunswick Police
Department. As one incident during the ride-along proved, the monitoring
of Brunswick Police's radio traffic can give Security a heads-up on something
of which they hadn't yet learned. "I believe that we have a mutually
beneficial, positive working relationship with the Brunswick Police Department,"
Assistant Director Brown says. "And while we have many of the same
goals, I believe that the tools and the resources available to each department
is what sets us apart."
So next time you see that white Jeep driving around campus, remember that while social code and parking enforcement is an inevitable part of their job description, Security is there to be helpful. And next time you call them for a ride or to let you in your room, say a little thank you. Says Officer Brown: "There is not a single officer in this Department who doesn't enjoy helping people."