Further Insight into Morgan State University's Security Enhancements
Dear Morgan Community:
This week, I held my annual fall Town Hall meeting with the University community. During that meeting, I updated the attendees on a variety of important topics pertaining to our campus, but none more significant than our campus security and safety.
Considering recent events that have taken place on our campus, the University has embraced a multifaceted approach to its longstanding commitment to maintaining a dynamic learning and living environment where safety is not only the overriding perception but also bolstered by the strategies put in place to advance this mission. To that end, Morgan is boldly moving to further enhance how we address campus safety and security in a well-designed, comprehensive strategy that could emerge as a blueprint for higher education institutions based in densely populated urban settings.
Perimeter Security Enhancements
Creating a perimeter structure around Morgan’s campus has been a key component of the University’s design and construction strategy for nearly 10 years. The effort has comprised a careful and thoughtful mix of planned construction in which new buildings and facilities have been erected along the perimeter of the campus with aesthetically pleasing fencing forming a continuous barrier along the campus perimeter. This measure has substantially decreased unfettered pedestrian access to the campus while also creating more defined points of entry (and exit) allowing Public Safety personnel greater jurisdiction over the ingress and egress to Morgan’s campus. To date, more than 60% of the fencing barrier is complete.
The additional 8,000 linear feet of proposed new barrier fencing will occupy those areas that are either presently under construction or earmarked for new construction.
Morgan As a Community Anchor
Morgan State University is deeply connected to the residential neighborhoods and communities that abut our historic campus. Those communities and neighborhoods currently have access to the campus and will continue to have access to the campus. In addition to serving as an anchor institution within the City of Baltimore, Morgan is also a public high research university, and as such, offers a plethora of resources to the citizens of Maryland. The measures being put into place on the campus will only serve to enhance the safety of the campus, not to separate it from the surrounding community or keep law-abiding community members out. To the contrary, these measures are designed to dissuade or deter bad actors from targeting the campus by way of unfettered access.
Prior to the events on the evening of October 3rd taking place, the University initiated the following:
- The continuation of the barrier fencing around the perimeter of the campus. With each new construction project, the University has added new barriers (natural and fabricated) and fencing en route toward a goal of 90 percent enclosure. The most recent completed barrier fencing can be found around Martin D. Jenkins Hall (BSSC). To-date, 60 percent of the perimeter has been enclosed.
- Aggressive recruitment to hire 23 new sworn officers to bring the current Morgan State University Police Department (MSUPD) force to more than 60. Working alongside and under the supervision of MSUPD are 16 Morgan State University security officers and nearly 30 contracted security personnel from Allied Security.
- Deployment of more than 850 surveillance cameras campus-wide providing more than 2,500 views of the campus.
- Installation of safety screening devices at the entrances of all on campus residential facilities, manned by dedicated security personnel.
- Upgrading and increasing of campus lighting.
- Enforcement of clear bag procedures at on campus sporting events. Safety screening devices were already being used at these events.
- Securing the services of a national safety consulting firm to assess campus security measures and recommend enhancements or adjustments as needed.
Since the incident took place, the University has…
- Increased campus-wide patrols from the Baltimore Police Department and MSUPD.
- An armed MSU Police presence in front of the Thurgood Marshall Residence Hall 24/7 – near the location where the incident took place.
- Added more contracted security personnel, many of which have been stationed near the exteriors of all on-campus residence halls during the evening and nighttime hours. There are currently security personnel located within all on-campus residence halls.
- Enhanced police presence throughout the interior of the campus and around the campus exterior.
- Staffed security booths with security personnel throughout the campus and around the exteriors of the campus. The University is looking to add more security booths. One security booth has already been placed in the high traffic area in the vicinity of the Thurgood Marshall Dining Hall.
Moving forward, the University is exploring additional safety enhancements that include:
- More enhanced technology to enable campus law enforcement to detect and identify any individual on campus with a weapon.
- More strategically placing covert safety screening devices in the vicinity of high traffic areas.
- Completion of the security barriers and fencing to enclose more of the campus and work to eliminate unfettered access.
- The addition of more guard booths around campus, manned by the addition of more security personnel.
- Increasing the number of emergency blue lights throughout the campus, in addition to increasing the number security cameras throughout campus to eliminate any potential blind spots.
- The hiring of more sworn MSUPD officers.
The University proposes the integration of these new targeted safety enhancements in a multi-phased approach, with the potential investment of the first phase of Campus Security Enhancement plan estimated at $22.5 million. The timeline for implementation of these enhancements is yet to be determined as execution will be dependent upon securing the requested funding. Other strategic security initiatives include enhancing campus safety personnel and technology as well as augmenting mental health and wellness. Funding for these additional strategic initiatives is estimated at a combined $14.3 million. The University is seeking state and federal support to implement these proposed additional enhancements.
Please know that this campus is more than just an institution of higher learning, this is our home. And we will do what needs to be done, to further create a safe and healthy university community.
David K. Wilson