Safety is everyone’s responsibility

Visitors speak to MATC community partners at information tables at Pubic Safety Day on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

Visitors speak to MATC community partners at information tables at Pubic Safety Day on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Don’t leave that phone unattended, make sure the valuables in your car are well stowed out of plain sight, use a lock that can withstand a considerable amount of force, and be aware of your surroundings when on campus.

These are a few of the tips Director of Public Safety  Aisha Barkow  shared regarding public safety. Barkow spent 18 years with the Milwaukee County sheriff’s department, and for almost the last three years, she along with her staff of public safety officers have been keeping MATC safe by making sure the most effective safety systems are in place. This includes exploring new safety technology, executing foot and vehicle patrols,  and taking suggestions from students and staff.  Barkow stated they are always looking for ways to improve and that the senior administration puts safety as a top priority. 

Photo by Sefton Ipock

One of the key factors that allows the safety officers to do their job effectively is being proactive. Public safety officers are trained that if they see something suspicious they investigate the situation, while also building a rapport with students and staff, making it easier for a person to report anything they might deem necessary.  Another factor is having great relationships with local law enforcement agencies.  “We rely on everyone to help keep the campuses safe and we also push for the ‘see something, say something’ model of reporting anything that might need investigating,” Barkow said. 

There are three drills the
public safety office conducts, which are lockdown, fire and severe weather. A lockdown is not just for an active shooter; it is also used to hold building occupants in place if there is a threat from outside the campus that may affect  the well-being of everyone on campus at the time, and includes those who are headed to campus.  These drills are conducted once in the morning and then again in the evening.  The primary alert system, also called mass notification system, comes into play to make a public announcement.  The secondary alert system is the RAVE system, which sends out a text, email, or phone call to those who have signed up for this system, to send out any updates for the situation.

Another way to stay safe is to use the personal escort provided by the public safety officers.  By calling (414) 297-6588 (a non-emergency phone manned 24/7) you can request an escort from your car to any building on campus and vice-versa.  The officers also encourage the use of a personal safety device that can be obtained from the public safety office.

An additional public safety tool is the blue emergency phones placed around the campus, providing a connection to the public safety office. The campus community also can utilize the shuttle van service, which services parking structures near the Pabst building, the HEC building parking lot, and the main building downtown.

The campus community has access to the District Emergency Procedures Guide, an in-depth guide to personal and public safety. It is available online to download and is in every classroom. 

“We want to keep everyone safe and to have all learn the emergency procedures, which is the reason we encourage full participation in the drills,” Barkow stated.  Another way to report crimes, concerns, tips or incidents and to remain anonymous is by using the Speak Up for Safety link that is found on the homepage of the MATC website. 

The office provides outreach through public safety, highlighting the resources that the campus offers staff and students alike.  Active shooter and bystander intervention workshops are held, along with bicycle registration.

Although Barkow did not have the safety stats for the surrounding campuses, she said, “We here at MATC have a good population of honest students and staff who bring items to the office all the time.  So, if you think someone stole your phone, don’t despair; just go on over to the public safety office and inquire about the lost and found. It may just be there.”

If you see a potentially violent situation occurring, the first thing to do is to call for help, then make sure you are safe to intervene. Be a good witness by making close observations of the scene. The office of public safety holds two to three Bystander Intervention workshops a semester as a resource for staff and students. During these seminars, the officers go over the five D’s, which include:

Direct – telling the perpetrator to stop

Distract – interrupting the situation if

Delegate – seek help from others

Delay – taking note of the scene and
        helping after the fact

Document – reporting what took place