At Tuesday night’s speech by former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Safety Officer Nathan Kemp stood out among hooded students in orange jumpsuits, dressed-up college Republicans, prominent faculty, staff, and community members. Wearing a well-fitted suit with a tasteful tie and a badge around his neck, Kemp’s fashion forward uniform was an example of the extra considerations made by Campus Safety during events such as the Ashcroft’s visit.
According to director of Campus Security John Schlaf, extra security is utilized for any high-profile event on campus and Tuesday night’s speech was no exception. The preparations made by Campus Safety for Ashcroft’s visit were almost identical to those made for commencement.
For these events, Campus Safety makes every effort to increase staffing, placing extra officers on special detail specific to the event at hand. Some remain uniformed, but for larger-scale events, like Ashcroft’s speech, others go plain-clothes, which explains Kemp’s outfit. Officers’ badges are worn in a variety of ways, either on the belt, over a pocket, or as Kemp wore it, around his neck on a ball-chain. This serves to add a touch of extra class to the event and mix up the appearance of the officers on duty.
Campus Safety also coordinates with the Galesburg Police Department for large events. Prior to Tuesday’s speech, Quad Cities television stations had advertised the event, emphasizing that it was free and open to anyone, leading Campus Safety to believe that an increased amount of traffic would present the need for extra help. To help assuage any possible traffic headaches, GPD offered their assistance. In this case they did not wind up doing much, as the crowd remained mostly local. Additional officers were stationed around the perimeter of Knox’s campus, for both traffic and safety reasons.
“Our concern is the safety of our students and the safety of our visitors,” Schlaf said, and he is quick to point out that securing that safety never includes stifling the voices of protestors.
As Schlaf puts it, “the Knox student body is an impressive body,” because of its ability to self-regulate. Security was posted at “strategic” locations throughout Harbach Theater, but the only real trigger for action was if the safety of anyone in the area was in jeopardy, leaving the Knox student body free to participate in whatever dialogue it chose.