By: Amy Dell
Shots scattered the crowd at a party on Towson University’s campus. Just two weeks after that shooting, how confident is Stevenson’s Security Staff that the same thing couldn’t happen here?
“My initial reaction was – we’re getting awful close,” said Evening Security Supervisor, Harry Joyner, referring to Towson University’s location, just 15 miles from Stevenson’s Owings Mills campus.
The Towson party, an unsanctioned gathering of 400 individuals in the campus’s Freedom Square, ended abruptly as shots were fired around 2 a.m. on Saturday, September 4. According to the Baltimore Sun, the shooting injured one student and two individuals not associated with Towson University.
Baltimore County Police arrested a suspect on Tuesday.
Joyner isn’t overly concerned about Stevenson University, though. He said that there is currently no threat to campus safety at any of Stevenson’s locations.
Director of Security and Transportation, Steve Gossage, adds “no college is without having a few misdemeanor-type crimes … but as for major crime, we just don’t have it [at Stevenson].”
As Towson recovers from the shooting, their campus officers told the Baltimore Sun that they have vowed to double foot patrols and monitor gatherings more closely, increasing their visibility on campus.
Joyner said Stevenson already has that visibility, “I think we do a good job of doing that, and of maintaining our presence on the campus. . . we do have an open campus. I like to think that we’re kind of aggressive, and we aggressively go out and patrol the property – we’re visible, people see us.”
“Comparing Stevenson to Towson is like apples and oranges,” Gossage said. He pointed out that size and geography are the main differences between the universities when it comes to security, “they’re eight times the size we are.”
Gossage also notes the degree to which Towson has integrated its campus into the surrounding city in a way Stevenson has not. While Towson University sits among busy roads, apartments, and businesses, Stevenson’s campus has “basically one way in, and one way out,” making it easier to prevent large crowds of non-students.
He also noted that the difference between Stevenson and Towson’s problems is largely one of scale. “I’m not saying that we don’t have issues with non-students coming on campus,” Joyner said, “but not in large numbers.”
Joyner encourages students to do their part in keeping the campus safe, “I’m depending on students to let me know what’s going on,” he said. This “see something, say something” mentality is supported by 24/7 campus security and about 400 security cameras around campus, according to Gossage. “The number of cameras we have on campus, we can see a lot of things. If a large gathering was starting to happen, we could pick up on it,” said Gossage.
In all dorm buildings except apartments, a private security company patrols from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m. with the goal of “keeping the number of people on campus down,” according to Joyner, “they are able to identify visitors and limit the number of guests to a room.”
This approach is a preventative measure to avoid events like those that took place at Towson. “We’ve never had any issues, but we want to make sure it stays that way,” Joyner said.