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Campus police offer safety advice for students

The+Columbia+College+Police+Department+is+open+9+a.m.+to+5+p.m.+Monday-Friday.+If+needed%2C+call+the+emergency+line+at+803-786-3333
The Columbia College Police Department is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. If needed, call the emergency line at 803-786-3333

The Columbia College Police Department is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. If needed, call the emergency line at 803-786-3333

Alexa Vega

Alexa Vega

The Columbia College Police Department is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. If needed, call the emergency line at 803-786-3333

Alexa Vega, staff writer

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The Columbia College Police Department (CCPD) has been helping keep students, staff and faculty safe for over 20 years. CCPD enforces safety and equality for those on and off campus.

“Be conscious of your surroundings,” David Dispenza, private first-class police officer, said. “Of course we are a small, little college, but our neighborhood is diverse, so if you were going to go around, be conscious of the way you present yourself.” Dispenza has been working as a police officer for 40 years and has been at Columbia College for 3 1/2 years. Dispenza said he watches to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable here at the college.

“The first thing you do is get awareness,” Dispenza said. “You want somebody to know that you have a problem. We have the blue call boxes; you just push the button and it’ll automatically come on our radios. We’ll respond immediately.”

Jayna Patidar, dispatcher for CCPD, has been working at CCPD for a year. Patidar believes this campus is safe as long as students pay attention.

“This is a really safe campus,” Patidar said. “We do a really good job of making sure that our presence is everywhere.” The security officers are a new asset to the college this year. They help patrol our campus to enforce safety.

“Now we even have security guards on top of having certified police officers,” Patidar said. “We’re pretty much all over, all the time. The biggest thing (crime) that we get is students parked in staff parking.”

Dispenza agreed that having the security officers has increased the amount of safety and added overall awareness of safety to the students and staff.

“The security officers are here to assist us. They are not sworn officers but play the same role as we do in law enforcement,” Dispenza said.

“The biggest thing that we can do is deter crime; we can’t prevent it,” Dispenza said. “It’s always going to happen. With two of us here, the visibility, of course, is twice as much. If we’re on one side of the campus, there’s somebody on the other side or vice versa.”

Both Dispenza and Patidar agree with keeping a buddy system and a phone in hand at all times.

“Stay in a group,” Patidar said. “If it’s late at night and you don’t feel safe walking back to your car, definitely call us. We have a courtesy officer that’ll walk you to your dorm.”

“They should have our number already in their cell phones, so all you have to do is put it on speed dial, and they’ll be able to get ahold of us immediately,” Dispenza said. “There’s always at least one certified law officer and one security officer on campus at all times. That’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

According to Dispenza, not only should students be careful of their surroundings, but they should always remember car safety as well. Keep valuables hidden in order to halt break-ins.

“You should make sure you have all your valuables put in your trunk, not easily seen,” Dispenza said. “If somebody looks in your windows, maybe sees a backpack or computer, all they have to do is break a window and get your belongings. It should be hidden from plain view.”

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A student news site of Columbia College
Campus police offer safety advice for students