Faculty, staff and students at Augusta University will soon be greeted by a not-so-unfamiliar face when making their daily commute. And this time, he has an important message about campus safety.
Augusta University mascot and resident “safety officer” Augustus is featured in a new campus campaign kicking off this week, encouraging students, faculty and staff to take an active role in their own safety and the safety of those around them.
The campaign, dubbed “JagSafe,” includes new videos, posters and more – with tips to keep members of the university community safe in and around campus.
“Campus safety is a shared responsibility,” said Augusta University Police Chief Jim Lyon. “We always strive to maintain a safe environment for everyone who visits our campus, but it is up to each of us to use good judgment and take measures to protect ourselves and our property.”
The idea for JagSafe originated as part of an effort to increase security in parking lots across the university, with special consideration to those lots that house students and employees traveling to and from campus in the nighttime and early morning hours.
“It is important for our students, faculty and staff to remember that we are located in an urban setting and share many of the same safety concerns as larger cities,” Lyon said. “Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.”
Work to improve safety on campus began last summer when Lyon’s team launched community policing and crime prevention initiatives such as “Coffee with a Cop” and “Pop with a Cop” to get officers out in the community. The department also increased foot patrols, added a bike patrol and invested in additional training for officers.
Lyon is proud of the work that has been done so far and hopes JagSafe will capitalize on that investment to create a culture of safety on campus.
“Our ultimate goal is to promote a safety culture that relies on helping one another,” he said.
“We’re here to help. If you are uncertain or afraid, or something just doesn’t seem right, call us. We need our campus community to serve as our eyes and ears. No one knows your work environment like you do, so if something seems out of the ordinary, we want to know.”
According to Lyon, a committee is currently reviewing additional areas for improvement in parking lot safety, including lighting, landscaping and security technologies.
“We continuously seek areas for improvement and welcome feedback from our campus community about how we can better serve them,” he said.
A future campaign phase will include new vinyl wraps for the bus shelters with safety tips and police resources, Lyon said.
Lyon offers the following safety tips when traveling in and around campus:
- Update your emergency contacts. Store the Augusta University Police Department telephone number (706-721-2911) in your cell phone.
- Download the app. The free Rave Guardian app enhances emergency response by communicating your location to police and 911 officials with the touch of a button.
- Never walk alone. Ask a friend or co-worker to walk with you, take the shuttle or call for a police escort when walking after dark.
- Walk in well-lit, populated areas. Avoid dimly lit areas or those with high bushes or shrubbery that decrease visibility.
- Stay alert. You are more likely to become the victim of a crime when you are distracted and unaware of your surroundings. Avoid looking down at cellphones and other electronic devices when walking around campus.
- Lock it up. Keep car doors and windows locked at all times and secure valuables in the trunk or a locked compartment.
- Don’t allow others to piggyback. Never allow anyone to enter an access-controlled or locked building or area when you are entering or exiting.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or observe suspicious activity, call the police department immediately.