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CSU improving security with voice alert system

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

There was a time when it took the Clayton State University Public Safety Department several minutes to get a campus alert out to students, faculty and staff members.

Phone calls had to be made to officers, who would then go building-to-building alerting people about incoming inclement weather, or other important issues.

Lt. Rex Duke, the department's second-in-command, said the process could be cumbersome, and a lot of valuable of time was used up while securing the campus.

By the end of next week, the university will have a new system in place, which will shorten emergency, campus-wide notification to less than two minutes. Two audible alert towers, at the Athletics and Fitness Center and the Maintenance Building, have been erected on opposite ends of Clayton State's campus to quickly notify students and staffers.

"After the Virginia Tech incident, everybody across the nation took another look at security, and that [the Audible Alert System] is one thing a lot of campus are doing now," Duke said. "[Virginia Tech] was kind of an eye-opener. It's human nature that if nothing is going on, we can be lured into a false sense of security."

The system will play prerecorded messages for the university community whenever a safety issue arises. There are messages for a variety of issues, from unwanted intruders to inclement weather in the area. Internal battery packs keep the towers going for several hours, if a power outage occurs, Duke said.

Even given increased concerns following the Virginia Tech shootings in April 2007 and a shooting at Northern Illinois University earlier this year, Duke said the major issue facing Clayton State traditionally has been the weather. He also said the university has been interested in implementing the Audible Alert System since before the Virginia Tech shootings.

Duke said the only safety issues the university has faced in recent years has been a snowstorm, and a power outage. However, he added the university has had to adjust its security plan since the school's first on-campus housing facility is slated to open its doors in August.

"Just because we've enjoyed an incredible amount of safety on this campus, it doesn't mean we can relax," Duke said. "We want to keep ahead of possible problems, so we can continue to be a safe place to go to school."