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Safety and Convenience Upgrades at Southwest

Pictured left to right, CST Jessica Bell and Director Bolden demonstrate the features of Southwest's new Emergency Blue Light Phones.

The parking lot of the future has arrived at Southwest, according to Police Services/Public Safety Director James Bolden.

"Safety is our first concern," said Bolden. The newest update is the addition of the Emergency Blue Light Phones, which have been installed on stanchions strategically located and tall enough to be easily visible throughout the parking areas of the Macon Cove and Union Avenue campus parking lots. "These phones are wired directly to the communication centers and video-monitored 24/7. The basic operation of the phones is not complicated and they are extremely user friendly - simply push a button and start talking," Bolden explained.

The Police Services/Public Safety Department is currently accepting applications to hire Campus Safety Technicians (CSTs). "You may have seen them around campus in their light blue polo shirts," said Bolden. "They participate in monitoring the campus for safety, provide escort services as warranted, write reports if suspicious activity is observed, assist staff and students during emergencies. One of the more attractive benefits is that they are familiarizing themselves with basic investigative techniques. Daily we are reminded what a vital service they provide for our Southwest community."

"In addition to installing new equipment for safety and convenience for students and employees," says Bolden, "we're combining security measures we've had in place for a long time so we can offer video-assisted parking." The campus video security system has long been able to show an overview of any section of the parking lots, a safety measure that has often proven its value. Now, that's being extended to provide video-assisted parking.

"Often," says Bolden, "it's hard to impossible to find empty parking spots that may be just one or two rows or a few slots away. Now, drivers can call us on their cell phones, tell us where they are, and we can direct them to the nearest empty space - simply by using the video to pan over the lot and search out the nearest slot." The numbers to call, he added, are the ones many students and employees already know: 901-333-4242 at the Macon Cove Campus and 901-333-5555 for the Union Avenue Campus.

Video-assisted escort is also available and uses the same system to offer an extra layer of security by providing a video overview of parking lots and corridors throughout Southwest's campuses. Students and employees can call the same numbers as above to request the service. Southwest is one of a select few institutions providing this innovative service.

Bolden added that "We are still hiring CSTs," and emphasized that the hiring process is not complicated. "Any student on federal work study is eligible to apply. We want to encourage interested applicants to contact Major Barbara Holmes at the public safety office to assist them in joining the CST "Blue Brigade."