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Prioritizing safety and security for all

- September 1, 2017

Left: Robin Sherwood (Halifax Regional Police) and Jake Jake MacIsaac (Dal Security Services). Right: the DalSafe app. (Danny Abriel photos)(Danny Abriel photos)
Left: Robin Sherwood (Halifax Regional Police) and Jake Jake MacIsaac (Dal Security Services). Right: the DalSafe app. (Danny Abriel photos)(Danny Abriel photos)

Every September, Dalhousie welcomes thousands of new and returning students to its campuses and surrounding communities.

And, every year, the university and community partners such as the Halifax Regional Police (HRP) work hard to help keep those areas safe during the busy “back to school” period and beyond.

Efforts ramped up this year on September 1 with the launch of Operation Fall Back, an annual HRP-led initiative that brings increased police patrols to residential areas near Dal and in Halifax’s south end during the first full week of the term and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night in September.

Fall Back patrols, first launched in 2004 in response to community concerns, centre on known complaint areas. Officers respond to calls from students and community members alike, and tickets are issued for liquor offences, noise complaints and various public-safety violations.

“Fall Back gives us a platform to better coordinate our efforts with Dal and other partners to ensure a respectful, safe and secure environment for all,” says Constable Robin Sherwood, community liaison officer for Halifax's south end.

Starting in October, Dal then provides financial support through its Designated Police Patrol initiative to keep additional HRP patrols running in designated areas near campus from Thursday to Saturday in October; Friday and Saturday in November; and on select dates during the winter term (Munro Day, St. Patrick’s Day, etc).

Building better relationships

This week also marks one year since the opening of Dal’s Community Outreach Office. Built on a partnership between Security Services and Community Engagement at Dal, it’s an accessible space designed to provide easy access to resources and services from Dal and community partners, including HRP.

Located in a high-traffic corridor in the lower floor of the Life Sciences Centre (room 204) on Dal’s Studley Campus, the office is open to students, faculty, staff and neighbours looking to find guidance and input on safety and security issues or to express concerns.

“The outreach team is here to provide that added layer of service to the community and to reassure people that we take their concerns seriously,” says Jake MacIsaac, assistant director with Dal’s Security Services.

Over the past year, the office has received referrals from groups all across the university, including Human Rights and Equity Services, Student Affairs, and various Faculties.

Individuals are encouraged to make an appointment by calling 902-494-1785 or to stop by in person. While not staffed on a 24-hour basis, the door is usually open when someone is on hand. Urgent inquires should still be directed to Security Services or HRP.

Security at your fingertips

Dal’s Security Services team operates around the clock all week long and responds to calls from those on campus.

Blue light emergency phones are located in various spots around Dal’s campuses for those in need of immediate access to security personnel. Once the button on the terminal is pushed, an alarm sounds and an intercom is patched directly through to the security office and an officer dispatched to the site. They are tested regularly to ensure they are in proper working order.

Dal also offers a host of mobile security services to the university community, including the DalSAFE smartphone app. Free to download, the app makes it simple to contact Dal’s security team and affiliated services such as the Tiger Patrol shuttle that runs in the evenings. Hitting its “Mobile BlueLight” feature will call and send your location to campus security immediately. It also features GPS-enabled maps of all Dal campuses, a voluntary push-notification service, and other important security tips and information on how to respond to threats or critical incidents.

Students and staff are also encouraged to sign up for Dal Alert, an integrated messaging service that enables the university to send important information in a timely way in the event of significant campus closures (due to severe weather, for example), campus hazards (spills or fires, for example), and other unforeseen events. All members of the Dal community receive email alerts, but subscribers can also opt in to receive information by text message.

“Our goal is to enhance the personal safety of the entire Dal community, by providing easy access to Security Services in person, by phone or online,” says MacIsaac.


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