The new semester brought many changes to the face and function of Campus Public Safety. The main motivator for the department’s restructuring and fresh approach stems from its new director, Kenton Ferrin, and the vision he has for safety at Vanguard.
“I’ve always felt like a protector,” Ferrin said.
With this new mindset, Ferrin hopes to bridge the gap between his team and students, making campus feel safe and informed.
Ferrin served in various levels of Orange County law enforcement for 30 years and had spent years consulting with Vanguard’s Campus Safety Office. When he was offered the director position, he knew it was his next move.
He is bringing a fresh perspective to the department. Ferrin noted student kindness and their hearts to follow Jesus Christ as a few of the things that drew him to Vanguard. After praying and thinking about opportunity, he knew it was where he wanted to invest his efforts.
“I felt drawn to the job, and I think you guys are a great student body,” Ferrin said.
His vision for campus includes equipping his officers with the tools and resources to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. He believes a campus must be able to rely on the responsiveness of their Campus Safety team.
“We need to make sure the students and staff members are confident that Campus Safety officers will do their best to keep them safe and respond to calls for service in a timely manner,” Ferrin said.
Campus Public Safety has already taken steps to make Ferrin’s vision a reality, beginning with significant changes in the policy manual, according to Ferrin. Changes include a program with monthly training qualifications, a multi-year security plan, and meeting with SGA to improve the student and Campus Public Safety relationship.
The multi-year program will involve things like lighting, perimeter control, blue poles, fire alarms, community service officers and surveillance cameras, Ferrin explained.
“I put together a task force of key people that are going to help me put this multi-year program together… we are using funding from the parking fees. When student’s pay their parking fees, [the money] will go towards protecting them,” Ferrin said.
Due to the budget, this security plan will take a few years to implement, but students will start to see changes on campus over time. To make sure the direction benefits the student body, Ferrin has been intentional in meeting with SGA representatives, which he has done several times already.
Because he values a positive relationship between campus safety and the student body, Ferrin wants students to have a say in the changes and in the security on campus. The SGA gave Ferrin a list of suggestions for collaboration, and these ideas will be put into action next semester.
One major way Campus Safety is working on their relationship with the student body is in their responsiveness and communication to students calls. The emergency blue poles on campus will now redirect to 911 operators if a Campus Safety officer does not answer, Ferrin said.
In preparing for natural disaster, Ferrin has begun relying on the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) that began in fall of 2018. Several Campus Safety officers have been trained to be instructors through CERT, and one was recently certified as a first aid and CPR instructor. These officers will continue to train students and faculty members so they are prepared to respond in emergency situations.
Campus Public Safety has also become more visible through the email and text alerts being sent frequently this semester. According to Ferrin, it is required by law in the Clery Act that campus safety departments for higher education must have the ability to send out warnings in a timely manner.
“Alerts allow us to accomplish a number of things, but most of all it allow us the ability to provide more information, and more often than not, reduce the levels of anxiety,” said Ferrin.
Perhaps the most recent change comes with the switch in location that was announced on March 8. The move to the first floor of Laguna Hall allows more space and a better location for the department, Ferrin said. As with all the changes, it is in hopes to better serve the student body.
“This is all student centric, everything I’m doing is to make it safer for you guys,” said Ferrin.
As Campus Public Safety continues to grow and adapt in the coming years, Ferrin’s vision remains that students will be informed and know changes are for their safety.