Security news source The SafeWise Report recently listed Edmond, OK, home of Oklahoma Christian University and the University of Central Oklahoma, as the 30th safest college town in America. The report took into account FBI crime statistics and campus safety initiatives when ranking its listed cities.
Chief of Campus Police Greg Giltner is one of Oklahoma Christian’s employees who daily work to make campus a safe place to be. According to Giltner, the results of the SafeWise report were not surprising given the effectiveness of local law enforcement and Oklahoma Christian’s quiet location.
“Edmond is a very good police department, they’re very highly educated,” Giltner said. “Oklahoma City, the largest law enforcement agency in the state, has a lot of resources that we have access to as well. We’re kind of on an island, we have 240 acres that sit right between two large cities. But we’re in an area of Oklahoma City and Edmond that’s good, so Edmond being on the list doesn’t surprise me.”
While law-enforcement backup is available if needed, Oklahoma Christian relies mainly on its campus police force. Six full-time officers patrol campus 24/7, including weekends and holidays. Giltner, who began his law enforcement career with the Oklahoma City Police Department in 1988, said recent technological advancements make the task of patrolling easier.
“You can actually have someone sitting in an office, looking at multiple cameras, monitoring where our campus has entrances and exits,” Giltner said. “We can even monitor entrances and exits to buildings so we don’t actually have to be out there. In addition to that, a lot of the dorms have card entry instead of having to carry around a physical key, so that helps.”
Campus police provided statistics, which show Oklahoma Christian’s crime rate is steadily declining. In 2013, there were 24 drug abuse referrals, 14 liquor law referrals and 11 burglaries reported to Campus Police. In 2015, the most recent year listed on the report, there were seven liquor law referrals, three burglary reports and no reported drug abuse violations.
Resident Director Shelby Musgrove said the Christian atmosphere of Oklahoma Christian aids in creating a safe environment, but added it can sometimes create a false sense of security.
“I think being a Christian college helps overall in creating a safer culture, but there is a blind spot in that,” Musgrove said. “We should be aware that there are Christians who might struggle with addiction, and just because we are a Christian college doesn’t mean there aren’t people who want to do drugs and alcohol.”
Musgrove said her biggest safety concern is Oklahoma Christian’s status as an open campus. The southern campus entrance has no gate, while the northern campus entrance has a gate which closes at 1 a.m. and reopens in the early morning hours. Security cameras monitor both entrances to campus.
“I’ve talked with other resident directors about it, and we wish it was a closed campus with gates,” Musgrove said. “I think that would probably help in bringing more safety to campus.”
There have been incidents associated with Oklahoma Christian’s Eagle Trail, which is open to the public and connects to the larger Edmond public trail system. In October 2016, Campus Police received a report of an attempted abduction on the Eagle Trail, prompting a warning email to be sent to all students and faculty. In 2014, there were concerns about a stalker who witnesses say approached a group of high school girls running on the trail.
Giltner said it is difficult having a public trail on a private university campus because the identities of those coming onto campus to use the trail are often unknown.
“We have a whole lot of people who have no association with our campus on our campus every day,” Giltner said. “I welcome them if they behave themselves, but I don’t always know who’s on campus.”
Senior Madison Simmons said students should practice common sense safety measures, such as never running alone at night on campus. She said past incidents on the trail do not worry her because there is sufficient lighting and police presence.
“The trail is really well-lit, there are lots of emergency call centers and there is a big police presence in the area,” Simmons said. “I feel safe walking on the trail, even at night if I don’t know the person.”
Students who notice anything unusual on campus should call Campus Police at (405)425-5500.