Long-term solutions to Scheller’s security problem

Photo by Elliot Brockelbank

Since the Jan. 5 incident in which a student was robbed inside the Scheller College of Business atrium, the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) has sought to increase the level of security in and around the complex.

“Immediately after the incident, we did a physical assessment of everything from lighting to the cameras,” said GTPD Chief, Rob Connolly. “One of the goals was to take back control of the College of Business building. We did a study of the flow of the building, and noticed that it was too open.”

If they have not already, students will notice that all Scheller College entrances require BuzzCard access except for the primary doors facing West Peachtree St., which are open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays.

The main atrium of the building is now monitored by a security guard as well, who is stationed from 8:00 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays.

Among the other technical changes made is the upgraded resolution in the College’s security cameras as well as the weekday security personnel now positioned at the Scheller access door on the second floor of Barnes & Noble at Tech Square.

GTPD also believes it has been responsive to the notable amount of public opinion was voiced following the criminal activity at Scheller.

“I think we’ve always kept track of crime trends and patterns across campus and what’s going on in the city of Atlanta and what the trends are, and we’ve stayed pretty dynamic to move wherever those are,” Connolly said. “Since we’ve taken control back of the College of Business, we’ve made more patrols of the building and also supported the security staff we added.”

For reference, GTPD utilizes a zone system for the distinct purpose of organizing patrols. At any given time, there are approximately eight to 10 police units patrolling in either one of the four zones, or on the campus perimeter, with a one-unit minimum per zone.

Another significant modification to the College’s security policy methodology has been the formation of the Scheller College Security Advisory Committee, which consists of associates from GTPD, Parking and Transportation Services and Barnes & Noble as well as specially selected members of the faculty, staff and student populations.

“Everyone on the advisory committee operates within the building,” Connolly said. “They’re the best to tell us how effective we are, and other areas we can improve.”

Partnership between Scheller administration officials and GTPD has been crucial according to Liz Maryanski, Scheller’s Chief Administrative Officer.

“We worked through everything together, and I can only speak the highest compliment of work with the Georgia Tech Police Department,” Maryanski said.

According to Connolly, while they continue to evaluate the process by which security personnel are allocated, GTPD is not examining any other buildings or facilities in the same manner as the College of Business at this time.