The next time the Coral Gables campus is flooded with red and blue lights, it won’t just be up to the police to keep you safe.
In a statement released on Feb. 22 to the university community, the University of Miami Police Department (UMPD) issued a new policy regarding on campus incidents that reinforces personal responsibility and safety during emergency incidents.
The new STAY policy is designed to provide direction to students, faculty and employees should an emergency occur. The name of the new policy is an mnemonic device that helps remember the instructions: secure your area, take cover, advise, and you must take measures to protect your safety.
“What we had here in place, it was a model that followed high schools, middle schools and elementary schools which is ‘lockdown’,” said UMPD Chief David Rivero.
According to Rivero, the university’s former lockdown policy was derived from the response to the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.
“[The lockdown] model existed in our emergency plans and in reality we can’t meet that criteria because UM is such an open campus there’s many buildings that we can’t even lock the doors to,” Rivero said.
Part of the challenges the university faces during emergency situations is the ability to lock all buildings and keep people inside. According to Rivero, only about 50 percent of the buildings on campus are able to be locked remotely through Cane Card access.
To raise awareness, UMPD will incorporate the STAY policy into their presentations during freshmen and transfer orientation. The university’s human resources department will also sponsor programs to raise awareness for employees and faculty.
“If you’re sitting in a little cubicle by yourself, no one is going to lock the door for you,” Rivero said. “You’re going to have to take care of yourself. There’s a perception that somehow people are going to come, lock doors, and keep you safe. It’s impossible to do that here.”
One student familiar with the policy agrees that UMPD faces unique challenges in a location like South Florida.
“You can’t be everywhere,” sophomore Ryan Zangeneh said. “The text message and e-mail service helped last semester during the incidents. There’s only so much you can do because Miami is so open.”
Ramon Galiana may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.