Are you confident in TRU’s security?

An investigation into the policies and protocols for TRU campus security

Karla Karcioglu, Roving Editor Ω

A TRU security staff member patrols across campus. Karla Karcioglu/The Omega

A TRU security staff member patrols across campus. Karla Karcioglu/The Omega

On Jan. 26, after the Kamloops Bridal Fair at TRU, I ran into a strange man while walking through Old Main. He asked me how to get to the bridal fair and wandered away down the hall. He was wearing one sneaker and one sandal and carrying a bunch of papers loosely in his arms. I watched him wander off and thought his behaviour was strange, possibly the result of mental illness, drugs or both. I decided the situation warranted a call to security.

When a member of the security staff arrived, I told them about the situation and pointed out the strange man. The staff member then walked them to the middle of the campus, pointed to the Campus Activity Centre where the bridal fair was taking place and then turned around and left the man there. I was surprised. I didn’t think that was how security would handle the situation. I then called Kamloops RCMP because I was concerned about the strange man on campus.

The whole situation made me wonder what protocols TRU security follow and how they are expected to handle different situations that occur on campus.

Les Tabata, the director for facilities services, is in charge of overseeing the contract for security on campus. He said that given the information I could provide him with, he didn’t feel the incident warranted a removal from campus or a call to Kamloops RCMP, adding it would have been an “overreaction.” He said it was a matter of judgment for security personnel.

Cpl. Cheryl Bush of the Kamloops RCMP said that every situation requires a judgment call, but if anyone feels like they’re in danger, they should call 911.

“If you are concerned about somebody’s presence or observed some behaviour that was concerning to you but you yourself didn’t feel that you were in any danger, I would suggest that alerting campus security first off would be your first step,” Bush said.

According to Tabata, TRU property is a public space where members of the community are welcome to visit, as long as they aren’t posing a risk or imminent threat. He said that only if a person were wandering through campus and engaging students in a violent or suspicious manner would that  person need to be removed from campus property.

Tabata said that when security responds to situations where a person is behaving suspiciously, or doesn’t look like they fit in on campus they may write a report, but for the situation I described, he didn’t feel it was reportable. If the situation escalated to a point of a physical altercation, or potential of it, security would call RCMP.

Concord Security Corporation has had a multi-year contract with TRU since the 1990s, with a current expiration date in July 2016. Tabata said that  Concord is in charge of hiring security personnel, but the university is in charge of setting the protocols and regulations they abide by. TRU looks at the level or service and abilities, as opposed to the individuals. Tabata said that some security personnel may not appear to be the typical image, but people have different strengths. Other assets for security personnel that can compensate for physical abilities include customer service, bilingualism, a good memory and good observation skills..

Tabata said the role of TRU security is “multidimensional,” including patrolling, responding to situations, observing and reporting incidents, rendering first aid, dispatching emergency services, access control to secure areas and accompanying people to and from parking.

With regards to different incidents that occur on campus, Tabata said security’s response is situationally based. They don’t have the power to arrest or detain, TRU doesn’t allow them to carry restraints, pepper spray or batons on campus. “We don’t feel that is necessary on our campus given the history of threats and the nature of the work they do here,’” Tabata said.

TRU is regarded as a safe campus by students, according to Tabata, citing yearly surveys by the Maclean’s Canadian University Report. In the survey TRU was given an A for “sense of personal safety/security” from 2006-2011 and an A+ in 2011.

“We feel pretty good about things,” Tabata said.

TRU security can be reached at 250-828-5033 and their office is located in main level of the House of Learning.