Campus Safety Issues and Self-defense Object Policies

By: Nichole D. Massas Le Cleres

On October 8th, 2014 a press conference was held at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus to address the issue of campus safety. The four panelists that participated were: Jesiel Díaz, member of the student council, Gustavo Cortina director of quality of life, Carlos Marrero, internal director of the department of transit and safety, Lieutenant Jorge Barbosa.

The first topic discussed by the panelists was the importance of security cameras. Mr. Cortina said “I think the cameras are a tool that can be used to clarify a case but I think I have to say that to implement such a policy we have to correct the human errors that we are committing.First we must solve the problems, then we can focus on putting cameras in the campus.”

Mr. Diaz agreed and stated that the CGE offered the students an online survey regarding the installation of security cameras. 88 percent manifested that they want the instalment of security cameras.

He added “The truth of the matter is cameras aren’t going to do much to solve the security problem and that is what we expressed to the rector and dean of administration. “We have to go beyond, the campus does not have a security plan and we are not on the same page when it comes to this issue.”

In regard to the comment about the security plan, Mr. Marrero stated that in 2004 processes and protocols about the use of security cameras were approved but no changes were made since then. “The security in campus should keep evolving.” “If we use the cameras correctly, they can become a great tool to help the officials ensure safety.”

Like Mr. Marrero, Lieutenant Barbosa believes that cameras can be beneficial. He said, “It probably won’t solve the problem but it can help. For instance about eight to ten years ago they installed cameras in the labs at the Stefani building and it eliminated a percent of the crimes in the labs.”

Another topic discussed was the use of self-defense objects. Mr. Cortina said that we have to look into the policy that is established in campus about the different types of tasers. “Students should not be carrying a taser but I you have pepper spray, don’t tell anyone and only use it if the situation is worthy. Just try to cooperate with the aggressor, never play the role the role of the hero.”
Mr. Díaz said he does not agree with Mr. Cortina and that he keeps a taser in his book bag. “They are tools that we students have to defend ourselves. I consider it totally valid.” Just like a self-defense knowledge, you should know how to use it properly.”

The press conference panelists: Jorge Barbosa, Jesiel Díaz, Carlos Marrero, and Guatavo Cortina. (left to right)

The press conference panelists: Jorge Barbosa, Jesiel Díaz, Carlos Marrero, and Guatavo Cortina. (left to right)

Lieutenant Barbosa added “I’ve always had this motto: act first, ask later. If your life is in danger use whatever tools you have to preserve your life.This possibly may bring bad consequences for yourself but at least you will be safe and alive.”

According to an article in USA Today news, taser policies are slowly changing In the United states. Camelia Naguib, deputy director if the Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC) stated that at the institutional level, policies have slowly become less vague and less broad than the used to be.

She said “Nonetheless tasers  are not considers by research, most law enforcement agencies or departments, and even taser international entirely risk free. As such, departments should take care to monitor usage and to ensure that its use is restricted to those situations when it is most appropriate force option.”

Taser International the company that creates the original product, has itself released more safety guidelines over the years. For instance, officers now know to avoid aiming the weapon at a person’s chest to reduce the risk of cardiac arrest.

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