Baylor’s Department of Public Safety Kicks Off Sic 'Em for Safety Month with Conversation for Parents
Conversation on safety and security answers parents' common questions as students start the semester.
WACO, Texas (Aug. 21, 2022) – Baylor University takes the safety and security of our students, faculty, staff and visitors seriously and has invested significantly in the University’s ongoing commitment to overall campus safety. As students return to campus, parents want to feel secure that their students are safe and protected as they transition to college life.
Mark Childers, associate vice president for public safety at Baylor, sat down with Gail Offringa, director of parent engagement for Baylor, to discuss the numerous safety features already in place around campus and how parents can support their students in being responsible and aware around campus. This conversation kicks off Sic 'Em for Safety a month of safety and preparedness events planned around campus.
Childers came to Baylor in 2014 after 18 years in the U.S. Secret Service. In his role at Baylor, he oversees the Baylor University Department of Public Safety (BUDPS). The department integrates personnel, tools and technologies from its five branches—Police, Emergency Management and Fire Safety, Technical Security, Global Safety and Security, and Parking and Transportation—to create a robust, strategic security platform.
As a parent of college students himself, Childers brings unique insight into his role and understands the concerns parents at all universities have about safety.
“Familiarity with Baylor’s Department of Public Safety is critical for parents because they need to know what our capabilities are and that we are committed to providing the ‘gold standard’ of higher education law enforcement, safety and security to the community,” Childers said.
Baylor DPS provides a multi-layered approach that includes:
- A fully licensed and IACLEA* accredited police department that protects and serves as the third largest law enforcement agency in McLennan County.
- Active patrols on campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Multiple ways for students to contact law enforcement immediately at 254-710-2222, through 81 emergency call boxes located around campus and by using BU Campus Guardian smartphone app.
- A network of more than 1,600 cameras as part of a campus-wide surveillance system that can identify criminal and suspicious activity as it is occurring.
- LED lights in all campus parking garages that also enhance the security camera clarity at night.
- A card-access system at all residence halls.
- The multi-tiered Baylor Alert emergency notification system, which uses outdoor and indoor loudspeakers and sirens, text and email messages. Parents can be added as an "alternate Baylor Alert contact" by their student through BearWeb. Sign-up instructions are on the BUDPS/Emergency Management website.
Gail Offringa said that the “most impactful part of listening to Mark is that you can hear the heart that fuels the dedication of the entire department.”
“Their [BUDPS] calling is to do everything possible to keep Baylor students, faculty, staff and campus a safe place to get a great education and to enjoy everything Baylor has to offer,” Offringa said.
Katherine Roberts of Clear Lake City, Texas, and parent of an incoming freshman, has researched the many safety precautions Baylor already has in place that she said “helps put my mind at ease as my son starts his journey at Baylor.”
"BUDPS works extremely hard to earn the respect of the community they are sworn to protect," Childers said.
“We never reach a point where we can relax and are continually assessing and reassessing our security readiness to improve or adjust as needed,” Childers said.
Recent additions to campus safety and security include:
- Replacing all exterior building mechanical door locks with card swipe technology to allow BUDPS to remotely “lockdown” buildings in the event of a campus emergency.
- Currently updating and implementing the outdoor emergency notification system.
- Conducting a campus-wide lighting survey to assess and upgrade campus lighting.
In addition, many of Baylor’s landscaping choices are made with safety in mind.
“We have a program entitled “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design or CPTED that specifically focuses on ensuring campus lighting is sufficient, shrubs, trees, and bushes are routinely trimmed and maintained to a certain height to keep areas clear,” Childers said.
Educating parents and incoming students improves the overall partnership and community for everyone in the Baylor Family.
*International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. IACLEA accreditation is a highly prized recognition of campus public safety professional excellence.
ABOUT BAYLOR DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
The Baylor University Department of Public Safety serves as an umbrella department for the Baylor University Police Department, emergency management, fire safety, global safety and security, technical security and parking and transportation. The DPS is set on providing students, faculty and alumni with excellent security and safety through instant notification systems, extensive surveillance cameras and highly-trained staff.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.