Story by Audrey Callaway Scherer,
CNM Security is reducing campus theft and increasing safety awareness by letting students know that they are approachable, said CNM Chief of Security John Corvino.
Prior to Corvino’s administration, security guards would usually stand around and pay little attention to students, and people were afraid to approach them, he said.
“We’re not cops,” he said. “I want people to come approach us. We changed the uniform, we don’t look like cops anymore, and this is what we do.”
The goal is just to keep the place safe for the year, he said.
“We’re doing a pretty good job,” he said. “Our bike guys are in every nook and cranny in this place.”
Over five years, larcenies – taking anything of value from somebody – bundled with burglaries had been reduced from over 200 in a year to 69 in 2017, he said. In 2016 there were 77 larcenies and in 2015 there were over 100.
“We knocked it down,” he said. As of the end of August in 2018, CNM was at 23.
He noted that despite Albuquerque being highest in the nation for stolen cars with about 400 to 500 a month, CNM has just a fraction of that with not even ten car burglaries on all seven campuses through the fall of 2018, he said.
“We’re just all over the place; presence, presence,” he said. “We always try to leave tips. Know your surroundings.”
Although CNM Security is trying to boost awareness, they can’t stop absentmindedness and everyone must take some kind of personal responsibility, he said.
The vice presidents are supportive of both CNM Security and almost all of the events Corvino wants to do, he said.
“Because it’s all for the community,” he said.
CNM Security participates in National Campus Safety Awareness Month – September – by hosting an annual Campus Safety Awareness Week in which they make themselves available around campuses, give safety tips and hand out goodies with information.
For 2018, the week’s largest event was a pancake breakfast held on Tuesday of Safety Week during which the 150,000th “Hello” in CNM Security’s Operation Hello was spoken to Danielle Bilotta, a dual-enrolled Albuquerque Institute for Mathematics and Science (AIMS) student passing by as she walked to her car after class.
“I think that it seems like a really good idea to get people to know who the security officers are, simply because that reduces security risks,” said Bilotta. “If you know who’s supposed to be there, then you’re going to be safer.”
Operation Hello has been going on since March of 2018 and they want to get 1 million “hellos,” said Corvino.
He expects it to take 13 to 14 months, he said, but they will probably do another similar event at 500,000.
“The meaning of “hello” goes a long way,” said Corvino. “We want the students to know us and we want to know the students.”
During the rest of the days in Safety Week, CNM Security engaged students around campuses and hosted two other events.
Monday, Security team members handed out Dum-Dums at a stand outside the SSC building on Main Campus that held their department’s keychains, business cards, and bookmarks and had flyers including information on your right to know about security issues and with tips on car theft and prevention, workplace safety, and active shooter situations.
Wednesday morning, Security team members were available at all campuses from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. to answer questions, and in the afternoon hosted a Texting and Walking Obstacle Course from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Main Campus to present the risks students face when unaware of surroundings.
“It’s more than just tripping. We’re doing know your surroundings. Bad people lurking around,” said Corvino.
Thursday afternoon from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., they hosted a seminar, “Don’t Be a Victim,” which covered how to protect yourself and get access to security-related resources with a focus on the Jeanne Clery Act. Also, on Thursday, security drove around Main Campus handing out ice cream sandwiches.
“We’re just trying to make students aware and we want students to know this building and that it’s a safe place, a safe environment,” he said.
People can stop in anytime with questions and problems, he said.
When Corvino first came to CNM, he asked administration if he could do something like the Hero for a Day that he did with the Albuquerque Police Department, in which he put kids with cancer through the whole police academy. They said absolutely, he said.
So, every year CNM works with the Children’s Cancer Fund of New Mexico to do Cancer Day, he said. 2018 was CNM’s third consecutive year.
At the end of each July, about 20 to 30 kids with cancer whose ages range from about 7 to 17 come to CNM for a day in hopes that they will go to college in the future.
They register for school, get an ID card and class schedule, then go to the bookstore, an orientation, and their classes. After classes, they have a study session, a final, and a graduation.
“I’ll tell you what. It’s moving,” he said. “Since we’ve been doing it, everyone wants to be a part of it, but we can’t fit it all in.”
Events like Cancer Day reach out not just to the community but to the kids of the future, he said. Enrollment is slow across the nation and hopefully catching kids while they’re younger will help them decide to go to college.
Corvino preaches education to all his people because he went to school later in life for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and if he can do it, they can do it, he said.
He estimated that about 10 to 15 people of 60 security team members are going to school.
“I think we care more, and we really put time into all our employees. If they have an issue, they’ll come and talk to us,” he said.
They also talk to their team about life and finances, retirement and opening doors to better work environments, he said.
“We’ve changed security,” he said. “I brought on good people. We’re retired APD officers, all good guys who care.”
Corvino has been with CNM for three and a half years, the Deputy Chief for three years, and his lieutenant close to two years, he said.
“They’re great and this is fun stuff,” he said. “The support is wonderful.”
CNM Security is always looking for more officers, he said. Although there is still turn-around, it is not as bad as it was.
“I don’t want somebody for 5 years; I want them to go into law enforcement, go somewhere to get a degree and move up. But if they like it here, hey, it’s OK,” he said.