September 5, 1996 * Vol . 7, No. 1
Personal security on campus gets a professional touch
If you want to be less fearful about your personal safety and learn more
about reducing crime on campus, Laura Melvin wants to hear from you. In
the meantime, the entire university community will be hearing from her.
"I'm aware of the importance of my position and intend to be proactive,
high profile and open," says SFU's first personal security coordinator,
whose office is decorated with mementos collected during three years of
service as deputy head of security at Canada's embassy in Tokyo.
She brought a decade of experience and training as a military police officer
to SFU, first as a patrol shift supervisor in SFU's campus security in December,
1994, then to her current position, which took effect last February.
In her first few busy months on the job she has begun personal security
training sessions on
campus, including everything from defusing hostility to safe cash handling
and robbery prevention. She is bringing SFU into compliance with Workers'
Compensation Board legislation on workplace violence. And she is producing
a comprehensive personal security training guide which will be widely available
Nick Coutu, director of campus security , summarizes Melvin's duties as
recommending, developing, implementing, and promoting personal security
"She will liaise with all levels of staff from faculties, departments,
student groups, the harassment policy coordinator, various campus interest
groups, victim assistance resource personnel, Workers' Compensation Board
and non-campus police and security information," he explains. "And
she will conduct various investigations in support of university policies
The WCB now expects employers to have a written policy on workplace violence,
to make per-sonnel aware of past violence and to train employees in recognizing,
dealing with and reporting violence. Risk assessments of potentials must
now be conducted and should violence occur, policies must be reviewed to
eliminate or reduce risk.
"With the help of a committee, SFU now has a policy and a full report
has been submitted to the WCB," reports Melvin. "The 20-page personal
safety guide -- which will be released during International School Safety
Week, Oct. 14-19 -- will give everyone at SFU the tools and information
to take re-sponsibility for preventing and dealing with crime."
"The personal safety liaison coordinator's position has been in the
pipeline for a while and I'm really pleased to see us implementing this
key recommendation of the com-mittee to review personal safety and security
(CRPSS)," says Judith Osborne, associate vice president, academic.
She is also a criminologist who chaired the CRPSS, which issued an extensive
report in May 1995.
"We had done a fair amount of work improving lighting, cutting back
bushes and instituting
the safe walk and bike patrol programs," she recalls. "But we
needed a person to coordinate efforts across campus and to put programs
and educational materials in place which would allay fear of
crime on campus."
Melvin is getting results on a wide range of issues. Complaints about burned-out
lights are acted on immediately, for example. And someone who was concerned
about lack of action in an RCMP investigation was contacted by the force
the day after Melvin made a call.
"I've decided to work from 2 to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, to walk around
the Burnaby campus at night, and to make myself available to people who
are here outside of regular office hours," she continues.
"I'll be dropping by each of the residences for training sessions in
personal safety and, of course, intend to spend time at the Harbour Centre
"Someone once said that the thread separating honesty and crime is
need and opportunity,"
she concludes. "We may not be able to do much about the factors that
motivate criminals, but we
can certainly cut down on their opportunity by being less complacent, more
aware and better
Melvin can be reached at 291-5450 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Simon Fraser University, Media and Public Relations