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Written By: Professor Zimmerman News Writing class:  Brittany Cleveland, Fiona Hughes, Kelley Notaro, Jonathan Stanton and Christopher Thomas

A guy sitting on a bench was acting weird; he made a student feel uncomfortable, and she called campus police. In fact, the man wasn’t a danger to anyone, but he was moments away from a diabetic coma. It’s a good thing she made that call. The ambulance got there in time, said Sgt. Reginald Eakins of the Cuyahoga Community College Department of Campus Police and Security Services.

He urges students to go with that gut feeling. “If something looks wrong, I want you to assume something is wrong,” he said. “Call the police.”

Program campus police numbers into your phone, he urged; don’t waste time calling 9-1-1 because that call goes to an outside regional system – a dispatcher in Willoughby who relays calls to first responders all over Cuyahoga County and beyond. The general 9-1-1 system will take longer to respond than campus police because dispatchers won’t know how to direct help to a specific campus building – or even which campus you’re on.

Also, students should learn locations of “blue beacon” lights in parking lots and other areas, which connect directly to a Tri-C dispatcher and a camera that zooms in on your location. When activated, blue beacons blink so police can find the caller.

If you think the campus police are security guards, think again. Although Tri-C has security guards, each campus also has fully trained, certified, professional police officers who are armed and ready to respond to any situation 24/7 – from that prickly feeling at the back of your neck to an active shooter on campus.

Eakins spoke to students in Susan Zimmerman’s JMC 20005 News Writing class at the Metropolitan campus Monday, Feb. 27 about campus safety. Eakins, a law-enforcement officer for 33 years, is the Metro site supervisor; the former U.S. Marine oversees the day-to-day safety of the urban, downtown campus.

Though violent crime on Tri-C’s campuses is rare, thefts are commonplace. Roughly 75 percent of reported crimes are thefts of personal property left unattended in public view, according to the Campus Police and Security Services FAQ page of Frequently Asked Questions.

“Protect your stuff – whether it’s your iPhone charger or a bag of snacks,” he said. “There are some unsavory elements here. Everything has a value to them, and every student here is a dollar sign to them.” Often, he added, this element includes “young juveniles wreaking havoc”; they might live near the campus or even come from other neighborhoods to prey on students who almost always have a backpack with a laptop, a smart phone and valuable textbooks that can be sold.

What one piece of advice would Eakins offer? It’s pretty low tech. “Pay attention,” he said. “These smartphones are killing us in more ways than one.”

Criminals look for victims who are distracted or who otherwise appear vulnerable. Stay vigilant and cautious, but also be confident: Walk with a purpose, Eakins advised.  Students who go around with their heads down, staring at their phones, might not even be able to describe the bad guy who stole their stuff, he observed.

Other tips:

  • Even if you’re late for class, lock your car. Eakins said he’s found vans with the sliding doors standing open and cars with the trunks left open. He’s also found 8- and 9-year-olds who roam campus parking areas, pulling on car handles to steal anything that’s not locked in.
  • Leave nothing in sight in your car – even an empty backpack.
  • Keep all belongings with you, even if you’re only going to the restroom.
  • Lock your bicycle to a bike stand.
  • Don’t charge your phone at a hallway outlet while you’re in a classroom.
  • Don’t walk up East 30th Street to fast-food outlets at Carnegie Avenue. Often, people (who may not even live there) dart out of the low-income housing projects, grab a backpack and are long gone before police can arrive. If you do walk that way, walk on the other side of the street.

Call campus police:

  • If you’d like an escort to your car.
  • If your flash drive is left in a locked classroom.
  • If you spot your abusive ex-significant other on campus – whether you have a protection order or not.

Program these numbers into your phone:

  • 216-987-4911 for emergencies
  • 216-987-4325 for non-emergencies

Go to  for more information.





From Columbine in Colorado to Chardon in Ohio, school shootings have taken many lives. “Knock on wood, we have never had an active-shooter situation on campus,” according to Sgt. Reginald Eakins of the Cuyahoga Community College Department of Campus Police and Security Services. But campus police are trained to respond if such an event occurs.

Each campus offers training for students, faculty and staff. Check your campus calendar or watch for flyers on each campus for A.L.I.C.E. – the type of training Tri-C uses for these situations. The letters stand for alert – lockdown – inform – counter – evacuate.

It’s the “counter” that Eakins stresses when he offers this training at Tri-C or at local businesses and churches.

The average time for a school shooter to start shooting is six minutes, Eakins says; the nationwide, average response time for police to arrive is eight minutes. Trainers nationwide urge students to be active, not passive.

“Don’t not do something,” Eakins says. “If you freeze and hide under a desk, you’re going to get shot. Instead, take action – any action.”

For example:

  • Throw something at the shooter to distract him – a water bottle, a textbook, even a crumpled paper.
  • Rush the shooter. If four 100-pound women, working together, each grab an arm and a leg, the shooter will be immobilized.
  • Then several people should sit on the shooter until police arrive.

But DON’T pick up the gun. If you’re holding the gun when police arrive, they will think you’re the shooter. Instead, kick it into a corner or put a wastebasket on top of it until police have control of the shooter.

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