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Point Park Globe

Public Safety to implement updated security technology for fall of 2018

Written By Nikole Kost, Photo Editor

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As Angela Altieri waited in Lawrence Hall for her parents to pick her up, she said a man later identified as Dalbert Banks approached her and asked if she was a dance major.

After Altieri said no, Banks brushed her off and continued to prowl outside of the dance studio until the registered sex offender was arrested the next day on numerous charges.

“When I was reading [the article] that’s when I saw the picture and was like ‘that’s the guy I was talking to the day before it happened,’” Altieri said.

Following a review of safety proceedures, Point Park officials have opted purchasing a new visitor management system (VMS) aimed at increasing security and vigilance campus-wide about who is allowed on campus by fall 2018.

A VMS is a digital logbook which keeps track of where and when individuals check in to a particular building. The VMS is developed by Software House and uses an online portal that allows authorized operators to create and manage scheduled visits and process visitors from the time they sign in and sign out.

Point Park Chief of Police Jeffrey Besong declined an interview regarding the purchase of the VMS. Besong commented in an emailed statement:

“After reviewing the safety and security needs of Point Park University, the Public Safety Department is moving forward with the purchase of a Visitor Management System,” the statement read in part.

Instead of taking a guest’s ID when signing in, the guest will be added to the online guest log. Guest IDs will no longer need to be held at the security desk.

If a person trying to sign in is banned from campus, the system will notify security.

“The plan is to roll out this system in fall 2018,” Besong said in the statement. “As always, the Public Safety Department operates with a goal of keeping the campus safe for our community members and visitors.”

Besong declined to comment on further protocol if a person banned from campus tries to sign in.

During a Sept. 25 meeting with United Student Government, Besong said planning for the system began in January of 2017.

“It’s very tough to secure this whole campus because you don’t want it to be the penitentiary,” Besong said Sept. 25.

Residents who are hosting guests are notified by email when visitors check-in, according to the Software House website.

Besong confirmed via email that the VMS will be active campus-wide 24/7 and security hours will remain the same.

Earlier in the semester, desk attendant hours on campus were cut which has been a concern for some students after the incident involving Dalbert Banks in Lawrence Hall. The Sept. 7 incident led to an altercation resulting in Banks fleeing. Police tasered Banks as he ran outside through the stairs setting off the emergency alarm, afterwards running into traffic where he was eventually arrested on the sidewalk.

Public Safety did not issue a PointAlert following the arrest. However, colleges and universities have been required to comply with the Clery Act since 1990. The Clery act requires a timely warning be issued to students for crimes including aggravated assault, according to Point Park’s website. Banks was charged with aggravated assault and criminal trespassing among other charges.

According to Point Park’s crime log, this semester there was one count of aggravated assault, one sexual assault, two trespassing incidents and one count of terroristic threat on campus.

While speaking to USG, Besong said that two weeks prior, someone not affiliated with campus walked into Academic Hall, locked himself in the bathroom and overdosed on heroin.

“Things like that happens because it’s an open public building,” Besong said Sept. 25.

According to Julie Bannister, director of customer experience and business systems at at the University of Pittsburgh, the program has a Guest Management System.

“When purchased, we evaluated the security factors for our students in tracking,” Bannister said in an email interview. “We also looked at a system that could implement our rules and regulations for our guest policy as stated in our code of conduct.”

All visitors at a building must be accompanied by the resident. Their ID is then scanned into the Guest Management System and is tracked for entry and exit from the building.

“We are able to track quickly to report if needed who is in any of our residence halls. This assists emergency personnel and our residence life staff,” Bannister said.

Students approached their USG representatives with safety concerns following their meeting with Besong.

“Especially what happened in front of Lawrence Hall earlier [Banks’ arrest] this semester, we really wanted to do more of a push to talk about safety and really get everyone on the same page about what’s happening around our campus,” USG Press Secretary Sabrina Bodon said. “We just want students to be as aware of what’s going on as possible.”

Harleigh Foster, a sophomore sports, art and entertainment management major and Lawrence Hall resident, didn’t hear that someone was arrested outside of Lawrence Hall until she read it about it in the Sept. 13 issue of the Globe.

“I was shocked that this person had been coming into the school so long and no one did anything about it,” Foster said in an interview in September.

Foster and sophomore photography major KJ Paige said she felt like the Public Safety Department should bring back security guards 24/7.

“I don’t see why we shouldn’t have security guards all day,” said Paige, also a Lawrence Hall resident.

Foster feels like security budget cuts have decreased students’ safety and is disappointed that students do not receive notification about what happens on campus. She has not told her parents about the security change.

“If my major was offered somewhere else I would transfer,” Foster said.

Disclosure: USG Press Secretary Sabrina Bodon is the Online Editor for the Globe.

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