By Rene Thompson, Editor-in-Chief | Photo By Rene Thompson
From catching bike thieves and working with the Albuquerque Police Department, to helping disabled students to get around in our community, William Duran, Security Director, who is also a part-time instructor in the Health, Wellness and Public Safety Department, said he has big plans to begin instilling a new customer service friendly philosophy within his department.
Duran also said he plans to put a new face on the security forces here on campus, which is all part of the new community based policing program he has introduced here at CNM.
In the months of January and February the CNM security office has been working with APD as well as the University of New Mexico Police Department to assist in apprehending three individuals so far, who had allegedly stolen high dollar bicycles from both campuses, and Duran said he has been dedicating more security to problem areas and also plans to continue working with these agencies until thefts have been reduced.
“Actually we’ve had a slew of bike thefts, and we’ve been working with UNMPD because they’re having the same problem. Also it’s not just one thief, it’s a group of thieves and they’re not associated with each other, so we have different groups stealing bikes here, mainly high dollar bikes,” he said.
Because of these occurrences, security will be starting new safety procedures to ensure less theft on campus to include, a new reporting system and will start having students and faculty begin registering their bikes just as car owners do, he said.
Security does plan to do a massive media campaign on campus before this registration rule will be required of bike owners, and Duran said this will be to ensure everyone’s property is safer overall on campus and elsewhere, so if a bike is stolen off campus, information saved during registration can help to retrieve stolen bikes.
“So it will be tagged with a sticker, and if that bike gets stolen here or wherever, we’ll have all the information on file,” he said.
The security team has also been working closely with the Disability Resources Center to address concerns from a safety perspective, Duran said, and one of his goals is making sure CNM is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, as well as even helping new disabled students to find the best routes to classes.
“We did a critical assessment of the campuses, and we’ve addressed most of the critical issues, such as fire alarm devices, fire extinguishers, and that kind of thing. We are also in the process of bringing Automatic External Defibrillators, so we’ll have staff members that are trained and every building will have one. Also, DRC has it set up so if students need something, that DRC
to get around,” he said. can call us to get students help
Duran said if any disabled students are having a hard time finding how they can get to certain areas of the campus that they can call the DRC at 224-3259 or go there in the Student Services building on the second floor. And for any emergencies students can call campus dispatch at 224-3001 or for non-emergencies at 224-3002.
Before Duran’s hiring seven months ago with the CNM security force, he was previously a Homicide Sergeant, and said he plans to change outdated policies and update campus security over the next couple years.
Duran said he hopes to change many aspects of his department as well, from installing new locks at the Montoya campus, which are sparse on most individual classroom doors, to bringing all campuses up to with to have proper surveillance and cameras to improve overall campus security and ensure safety on a more comprehensive level.
On Jan. 13 at Montoya campus there was a break-in at the office of the food court in the H building, where thieves got away with a couple hundred dollars and took a computer and monitor, Duran said.
But APD is investigating the case and now has a suspect because of finger prints obtained from the scene, he said.
Duran said that his department will always work with APD because there are certain things that his department cannot address, such as this kind of crime that occurs on campus, and said that he feels supported by local law enforcement in resolving issues efficiently.
“Chief Banks (of APD) said ‘whatever resources we need he will provide,’ so it’s good to know we have the help,” he said.
Duran said the fingerprints were a good break in the case and that his department will continue to work with APD to conduct more interviews on this matter, and that he will be focusing on getting security up to date at Montoya.
“I know that Montoya does not have any cameras right now and we will get some. I have tons of cameras all over the place, but there are some campuses without cameras, so we’re in the process to find out where we need more. I’d double the amount of cameras we have now, but it is just a matter of money and funds,” Duran said.
He said his department is conducting a reassessment of the surveillance system and as the campuses keep growing, so will the need for more surveillance, so all campus cameras will soon be incorporated and all tied together by a new control system Duran hopes to begin using soon.
“We have some really outdated locking systems, I mean really outdated, like a quarter of a century old that really need to be upgraded, so we are in the process right now of setting up an access control system,” he said.
Duran said this new system will not only be tied to the cameras on campus but will also incorporate swipe card locks on doors, so that staff and faculty can be able to access doors much more easily that will lock when closed if required, and to be able to free up the security force for more pending issues instead of unlocking doors for people.
Also, if it was ever needed in a shooter situation, every door could be locked or unlocked from a master control system.
“My goal is to have all of my campuses run on the access control system, which will incorporate intrusion control, surveillance and that kind of thing, but we’re just not there yet. It should have been something that was done over the last 10 years and nobody really ran with it, but now I have support from the President’s office and IT (Information Technology Services),” Duran said.
Another big thing that Duran plans to do is to change the way the officers in his department will be seen, by altering the uniforms that security wears on campus in the near future, he said.
Duran said one of the reasons why is because his security force are not police officers, yet they are seen that way sometimes, and that the uniforms worn now could potentially be a safety issue in a shooter situation, because they are not armed, but could be perceived as police officers and this could potentially put them in harm’s way, he said.
“I’ve talked to a lot of the students, including my students because I teach here part time and they say ‘your guys look like cops, and they act like cops,’ and that’s not the role because we’re a community college. They will instead have tactical pants and a polo shirt. It’s a utility uniform, but they will not look like police officers, the pants will be tan and the shirts will be black,” Duran said.
He said he wants his security force to be seen as a resource that students can utilize, and compared his force to the UNMPD, explaining that they are a different breed of enforcement, because UNM has residents, alcohol issues, and large events that require having a police force, but that CNM does not need to have that kind of presence, at least not yet.
“We’re not law enforcement right, so it’s kind of a non-threatening or non-authoritative uniform; it’s more of a customer service type look, it’s just softer and that’s what I want here. We need the help of everybody on campus, and we’re not going to get the help if we’re always walking around in a militant type authoritative manor, so it will take some time, but I want our department to be the leadership group for all of CNM,” he said.
This new community based initiative is not just for the community, but is also to better the school and for the officers too, because Duran said that research has shown that community based policing helps to get officers more involved in not only the school, students and faculty, but the surrounding area as well.
“They feel more valued, and then they really become an integral working part of the community, and it gets rid of that us versus them mentality,” he said.
Lately some of Duran’s officers have been doing safety walks with students and Duran said he hopes to get more students on the reinstated safety committee of more than 35 people from most departments, because students have a different view than the staff do, and because his team sees the school every day, and they do not see the safety issues that are seen by students that are not on campus on a daily basis.
Duran said that he also wants to start seeing students taking the initiative to call his office when they see something going on at any of the campuses, whether it is with an instructor, administrator, student or his own officers.
“If people see something, we need to know about it. Please call and let us know, because I am all about accountability here; I expect my officers to hold me accountable and I expect students to do the same. I don’t want people to think we condone bad behavior, and not just from my officers, but from any staff or students, because it needs to be addressed. They should call so I can address it, because if I don’t know about it, I can’t fix it,” he said.
Lastly Duran hopes to update the security web page to include interactive software where students or faculty can make incident or safety reports more easily, or if anyone has any general concerns, they can also be addressed with this upcoming feature, he said.
“I don’t think our web page has been visited for a long time, so I need to put a lot of infrastructure in place before we can get to that,” Duran said.
Until then, if anyone does have any issues or concerns at any of the campuses, they are urged to call the school’s non-emergency dispatch number at 224-3002.