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MICA’s New Director of Campus Safety Brings Progressive Crime Prevention to College

Stephen Davis leads proactive policing model with bike and Segway patrols, new technology

Posted 08.26.09 by MICA Media Relations

Stephen Davis

During an interview, Stephen Davis, MICA's new director of campus safety who arrived on March 4, answered questions about his decision to come to the College, transition from law enforcement to his current role, impressions of the MICA community, general approach to campus safety and the new, proactive initiatives, including the use of Segways as alternative patrol vehicles.

You retired after 21 years with the Baltimore City police, leaving as a colonel chief of the technical services division. Why did you choose to enter the field of campus safety at MICA?

All the experiences in my operational career and administrative commands have shaped me to step into this role. I was looking for a challenge in a position where I could use my background and at the same time continue to grow. It was important to me to use my education and degree from Johns Hopkins University, division of public safety leadership. And I was looking to continue my professional career in a vocation that would allow me to spend more time with my wife and family.

It must have been somewhat of a transition for you to go from law enforcement to your current role. How has working in the police department affected your philosophy on campus safety?

Many of the issues facing city police intersect or overlap with campus safety. The police department has prepared me for many of the challenges college campus safety programs are just really starting to examine. I have worked with barricades, crime spikes, crime analysis, supervision, personnel training and team building. These experiences have led me to guide the public safety team here at MICA in a direction of servant-hood, understanding that students are our most valuable resources, and with the desire to make this department a national model for campus safety.

What is your impression of the MICA community?

MICA rolled out the welcome carpet and embraced me as a family member, making me feel free to walk beside the great leaders already doing incredible work. I feel humbled and blessed to do my part to educate and shape the minds of the most talented and creative students in the world. I could not have imagined a better place to work.

What do you believe is the role of your position here at MICA?

I see my role as a leader, overseeing safety and the education of safe practices in the MICA community as well as a liaison, bridging and establishing growing relationships between all law enforcement partners, surrounding communities, city government, students and their families.

My role is much more than police tactics, deployments and crime suppression. It's helping our students learn the skills to be successful in working, visiting and living in any metropolitan area without fear and with common sense. It's important our students leave MICA knowing how to hold local government and public safety accountable for safety, taking a sense of ownership in their community and environment, and feeling obligated to become civilly engaged in public safety concerns.

How do your campus safety goals and policies compare to those already in place when you joined the College?

Some are a bit radical, innovative and very progressive. Some parallel what was already in place here, and others are still being uniquely developed just for MICA. Many of the policies being implemented are best practices used throughout the country, with a little added creativity to make them fit the College just right.

One of campus safety's main objectives is creating an atmosphere where students, faculty and staff feel safe and free to learn and enjoy the college experience. And our policies reflect this goal.

Your approach seems very proactive in campus and community communication as well as in patrolling. Tell me more about these initiatives, including the decision to add Segways and bikes as alternative patrol vehicles.

Campus safety can do a lot to prevent crime, predict its occurrences and prepare to react and resolve crime when it happens. By changing to a proactive policing model, campus safety can be more visible and present in the areas crime is most likely to occur. If we can get in-front of crime and educate the College that public safety is everyone's responsibility, we can really have an effect on outcomes.

Our bike and Segway patrols will remove the barriers patrol cars created and allow for increased interaction between campus safety staff and the MICA community. Officers can be more effective on the bikes and Segways by as much as 50 percent per shift, helping our proactive responses. They also allow us to be good environmental and financial stewards by saving on costly vehicle repairs and gas.

Using the latest technology is one of your objectives to combat crime. Please explain your department's plans for technological advances and how they can assist in campus safety.

Technology is a tool, and safety increases when the tools in your tool box are customizable for the job. For campus safety to be effective, technology must be used because crime has become very complex.

A reliable CCTV system (closed circuit television, a video surveillance technology), precision access controls, interoperable radio systems and records management are key and primary infrastructure components. Rave Guardian is a cell phone alert that will put every student, staff and faculty in direct contact with campus safety dispatch in the event of emergencies. Computer Aided Dispatch is just a small part of the new operations center, where we'll have interoperability with Baltimore police, Baltimore fire, Coppin State police, University of Baltimore police, MTA police and Amtrak police.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 65 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.

Rave Guardian

Beginning this fall MICA offers the Rave Guardian system, available and free for all students, faculty and staff. Rave Guardian provides peace of mind and increased security by transforming any cell phone into a personal safety device. The system is activated by placing a panic call to campus safety personnel or by initializing a timer.

Before traveling from one place to another, such as walking home at night, a user can activate the Guardian timer on his/her cell phone. If the timer expires (or the user hits the panic button), campus safety is notified immediately.

To register for Rave Guardian, visit https://www.getrave.com/login/mica.