Chris Ballard presents new security proposal


Denny Patterson

On Monday, April 15, an open forum was held in LRTUC to discuss a proposal by Safety and Security Director Chris Ballard. His proposal was to reorganize certain aspects within Safety and Security and to create a proprietary Public Safety Department by adding a law enforcement component to augment the security team.

“The overall purpose is for a more professional staff that will deliver a higher level of service and community feel of security,” Ballard said. “We have to look at how we best serve our students, employees and all guests that might be here.”

Over the past year, there have been some concerns with the current system. Most of the specific complaints Ballard receives are about customer service issues. The more general safety complaints are usually based on the community feel and are typically accentuated by more of the recent events such as vehicle break-ins that happened earlier this semester. In order to decrease the number of complaints, Ballard would like to increase professionalism by adding experienced law enforcement officers to the Safety and Security staff.

After reviewing other companies, there are only four in the area that are capable of staffing. Millikin has direct experience with two of them. One stood out as a solid candidate and the other had a questionable reputation. A change in contractors would most likely not lead to improved service.

The current Safety and Security staff is not entirely trained to handle crime or crisis prevention. The increase in security would allow Millikin to handle law enforcement issues more efficiently, identify potential campus threats and immediately respond to them.

“Threats are not decreasing,” Ballard said. “Good security and law enforcement planning and program implementation requires coordination with the community at large to balance security needs and community values.”

Increased security is also becoming more of an expectation. During visit days, parents often inquire about response to armed threats and many students are coming from high schools that have armed resource officers on campus every day. In addition, many state institutions and many community colleges have an armed law enforcement component.
The reorganization would add three law enforcement officers with Ballard remaining as director. An assistant director (certified law enforcement officer) would engage the campus community daily and lead the department in Ballard’s absence. Two hourly law enforcement officers would work primarily evenings/overnight and weekends. The two hourly officers would also focus on interactive foot patrol, be available for floor programs, act as shift supervisors for the security team and assist with special events such as homecoming.

The security team would all become proprietary (MU employees). The hope is that this leads to more ownership of responsibility for campus safety.

“I would hope the community will feel safer knowing that professional law enforcement officers are available to assist if needed,” Ballard said.

Campus police will have the same authority as municipal and county officers to enforce state laws, city ordinance and traffic laws. Only official law enforcement would be armed; security would not.

The Decatur Police Department, which is a very active partner in securing the campus, is supportive of this concept. They would still be willing to work out communication plans to enable the institution to coordinate together more efficiently.

Student Darrah Hulva is also on board with Ballard’s proposal.

“I am extremely excited for the improvements and direction that Safety and Security and Chris Ballard are proposing and pushing-for in order to best provide for the Millikin Community,” she said. “Throughout Ballard’s presentation I heard the words positive community-feel and prevention and preparedness. As the president of one of Millikin’s sororities, I am even more excited for not just myself, but the 90 women in my sorority and other campus peers who will benefit from the proposal. I hope that this will help provide more crime prevention, transparency in campus security and law enforcement officers, quicker response times to campus calls and an overall more positive feeling in regards to our safety on campus.”

Ballard will be presenting his “vision” to the Board of Trustee at their May meeting and the tentative timeline is that full implementation will be realized by summer 2014.

“A safer community will lead to a positive community,” he said.