News by Barin Von Foregger October 14, 2015
Holmes on cutting edge of safety Holmes Community College is continuously doing its part to stay up-to-date with any measures necessary to ensure campus safety for its students, faculty and staff. The college utilizes police officers on each campus, and technology plays a major role in getting pertinent information out quickly.
Nineteen police officers patrol each of Holmes' three main campuses either on foot or in marked patrol cars, and the college has hired a new District Director of Public Safety, Chief Christopher Dill.
In addition to the on-campus police department, Holmes also has many programs in place to keep students safe and informed about potential risks on campus. One such program is the Rave Alert System. Rave is set up to notify students of any on-campus emergency, whether it be a campus lockdown due to an active shooter, a weather event, or any kind of evacuation. Students, faculty and staff must opt-in to this system through the MyHolmes portal. The link to activate Rave on their smartphone is under the Free Technology link, and they should enter their cell number and email to receive these notifications. Students are especially encouraged to sign up to receive texts, which will increase the likelihood of seeing the notifications right away.
"Students, faculty and staff should utilize the Rave System because it automatically sends the necessary messages straight to their phones," McDaniel said. "The messages can come in the form of a text or email. This system is imperative to our campus safety operation. It only takes a second to sign-up for Rave, and everyone affiliated with Holmes Community College should opt-in."
The college also utilizes the Alertus System feature, which takes over all computers on the Holmes network and displays a notification of any campus emergency.
"This is another way we can quickly get information to the people already on our campuses and let them know of the emergency," McDaniel said. "It automatically blocks out their screen and tells them what's going on. They will not be able to work or use their computers while this message is up and will have to give their attention to whatever is going on."
Holmes also encourages students, faculty and staff to utilize all social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, as well as the website (www.holmescc.edu), to stay up-to-date on campus safety information. Notifications will be posted on these channels when the Holmes family needs to be notified of an emergency situation.
Additionally, each campus is equipped with an overheard siren system that is set off during any campus emergency. The siren system can be heard in every building and dorm on the campus, and is tested periodically.
To alert the campus that there is an active shooter or armed intruder, the siren will sound an on-and-off air horn in short bursts. Everyone should remain in place and lock the classroom or office they are in. Those in the hallways or on sidewalks during this siren should seek shelter in a safe, lockable location.
To alert the campus of a tornado or other serious weather conditions, an overhead siren will sound a long, steady tone. This will signal everyone to move into the hallway, or to the interior of the building away from windows if there is no hallway.
If a fire is discovered, the fire alarm should be sounded immediately by whomever discovers it. This lets everyone know to evacuate the building immediately and proceed to a clear area that is at least 500 feet away from the affected building.
Whether it be a medical emergency, tornado warning, hostile/disruptive behavior, bomb threat, campus lockdown or fire alarm/building evacuation; the college has a plan in place to deal with the situation as quickly and effectively as possible. For detailed instructions on what to do in case of campus emergencies, students, faculty, and staff should visit https://www.holmescc.edu/administration/safety/.
Each campus is making individual efforts to increase safety, as well. On the Goodman Campus – the college's only residential facility – the main entrance is protected by a guard house, and all other entrances are locked down at 6 p.m. each night. Unless they have prior approval, no outsiders are allowed on campus during the hours of 6 p.m. – 7 a.m. Students and guests entering campus must present identification, and their information is recorded in case it is needed at a later time.
"These men and women [police officers] have the faculty, staff, students and any guest of the college in their best interest," Goodman Campus Police Chief Tony McDaniel said. "They are in full uniform and here to help with any issue that may arise."
Additionally, each dormitory on the Goodman Campus has an assigned security guard, and there are surveillance cameras throughout the dorms and in the parking lots.
"These cameras are very important to our operation," McDaniel said. "We have plans in the very near future to install cameras in major parking lots besides the ones near the dorms. I was excited to hear that we were installing more cameras."
In Grenada, increased safety measures have been taken through campus updates and partnerships. Specifically, extra lighting has been added to the parking lots, and campus officers are working on emergency plans with both area agencies, such as the Grenada Police Department, and state agencies, as well.
In Ridgeland, Chief Dill will be reviewing safety protocols and working with local law enforcement, state and federal agencies to improve response capabilities for the campus. Chief Dill notes that the Ridgeland campus is surrounded by other local law-enforcement agencies who would respond quickly to assist officers in an emergency situation should assistance from other agencies be necessary.
"In light of recent school shootings, all officers will train over the Thanksgiving Holidays," Chief Dill said. "We want to be better prepared to deal with any serious situations that could occur on our campuses. The plans to increase the number of cameras throughout the campuses will also allow personnel to view more areas without officers present."
Holmes recognizes that a proactive approach to handling crises is the best way to prepare for emergencies. Therefore, our Department of Public Safety has placed emergency protocol posters in every classroom and in the common areas of each building. The posters also include campus police numbers, and the Holmes family is encouraged to save the numbers in their phone.
Goodman Campus Police can be reached at (601) 940-0089, Grenada Campus Police at (662) 809-6845, and Ridgeland Campus Police at (601) 603-3333.
To help inform Campus Police of any suspicious activity on campus, Holmes has a Silent Witness program. Students, faculty and staff can use the Silent Witness function to inform police of areas that need attention and remain anonymous at the same time. To use this program, users may enter information at https://www.holmescc.edu/forms/silentwitness.aspx.