Palm Beach Atlantic University’s partnership, and efforts make an open campus a reality
Updated: Apr 19, 2022
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – – The partnership that Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Campus Safety and Security has with the West Palm Beach Police Department is what makes an open campus directly in the city possible. The combined efforts of both parties decrease the severity of challenges present in the surroundings.
“We work hard to build a partnership with them,” said Adam Pina, who is PBAU’s director of Campus Safety and Security. “We know that in a time of emergency or something that happens on or nearby our campus, we have some great comprehensive plans in place.”
City-Data’s crime index reveals that nearly 93% of U.S. cities are safer than the city of West Palm Beach. While PBAU doesn’t have entrance points or gates, Pina understands the difficulties that come with having an unsecured campus, and that’s where campus safety’s constant preparations come into play.
“We know that the city of West Palm Beach can be dangerous and at times it has been dangerous,” Pina said. “We’re not so concerned because of the way we are proactive here, and we work in unison with the WPB Police. We provide them with information, and they provide us with information.”
Everything comes back to the strong partnership that campus security has developed with the WPB Police over the years, and that has laid the foundation for keeping everyone safe. While that leads to a strong sense of confidence, they are still aware of the vulnerability of having an open campus.
“For us as a department, the most important thing is that we’re situationally aware,” Pina explained. “There are a lot of vulnerable places because it is open. But at the end of the day, if we’re out there being proactive and paying attention to our surroundings, we’re better able to keep people secure here.”
This is especially important when a lockdown is necessary, which occurred several times during the past fall semester. Whether campus security gets a call from someone on campus or is alerted by the WPB Police Department, situational awareness is vital in these situations.
In regards to the volume of calls, Campus Security saw a spike in calls in 2019 despite no significant change in enrollment. According to PBAU’s annual reports, Campus Security received 21,417 calls in 2018, but then there was a large spike in calls. Campus Security received 28,566 calls in 2019 and followed by 30,034 calls in 2020.
“As we progress into each new year, I think there’s more related to our growth here,” Pina said. “We get more and more people calling us on a regular basis for the smallest of things, but we take everything seriously.”
The numbers don’t concern Pina because he believes the increase in calls is simply a byproduct of students utilizing the resources at their disposal, such as escorts for students at night.
Gracie Collins, a freshman at PBAU, feels safe on campus and is confident in campus security.
“I’ve called campus safety several times for little things,” Collins said. “I feel safe on campus because if I come across any risky situation, I know that help is one call away.”
Pina expects that last year’s numbers will be even higher when the report is released and 2022 will follow in that direction.
Another element of having an open campus is that the public can drive through. The intersection at the center of campus is a concern because there is no stop sign, and there have been cases where drivers aren’t paying attention to the pedestrians.
“Yeah, there’s always concern with that,” Pina said. “Anytime we see it, we try to grab a license plate. Fortunately for us, we have cameras. And we have some resources where we can obtain the information of the registered owner.”
The same goes for the entrance to Dixie Highway where multiple incidents have occurred. “There have been accidents there and that is an area of concern. That’s something that the city of West Palm Beach is looking at.”
There will always be challenges and concerns with having an open campus, but Pina doesn’t see any changes to the perimeter in the future. They feel comfortable with all the measures they have taken and the strong partnerships they have developed.
By Aaron Heckmann