Despite a string of shootings at Paine College and the surrounding area, nearby academic institutions have maintained a standard approach toward campus safety.
Georgia Regents University, which sent some of its own public safety officers to assist in locking down Paine College on Monday after its second on-campus shooting in 24 hours, hasn’t increased the officers on patrol on either of its campuses, spokeswoman Denise Parrish said Tuesday.
The university’s Health Sciences campus sits opposite Paine’s campus on 15th Street and was placed on lockdown while authorities searched for Monday’s shooting suspect.
“The GRU Division of Public Safety and the Georgia Regents Medical Center Security Department provide adequate manpower on a daily basis, working in concert to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors, students, faculty and staff,” Parrish said. “This unfortunate incident, however, serves as a reminder to all of us that tragedy can strike anywhere, and it has created a heightened sense of awareness among the entire GRU community.”
Twelve Richmond County schools were placed on lockdown as a precaution during Monday’s manhunt. Richmond County School Safety and Security Chief Alfonzo Williams said schools near Paine resumed Tuesday on “heightened alert,” which is not a form of lockdown.
“We’re asking our students, faculty and staff to be aware of their surroundings and to carry on teaching and learning as usual,” Williams said. “We have supervisors and officers patrolling those areas to ensure that our students are safe with a little extra security.”
With no classes in session as Augusta Technical College transitions between semesters, Police Chief Mike Anchor said business carried on as usual at the school’s Augusta campus.
“It doesn’t matter where you are, something like what happened at Paine could happen anywhere,” he said. “We need to make sure that our presence is known at all times and to engage the students.”
The Augusta Campus is patrolled by two officers at all times, Anchor said, and receives additional coverage by Richmond County sheriff’s deputies.
Roughly 17 miles from Paine’s campus, USC Aiken Police Chief Kevin Liles said he has been keeping a watchful eye on recent schools shootings.
“We’re concerned about it because it’s starting to hit close to home, with South Carolina State (University) a few weeks ago and Paine College this week,” he said. “As soon you let your guard down, something bad will happen.”
Liles said the area surrounding USC Aiken’s campus isn’t necessarily prone to any sort of criminal activity, though it is a priority of his department to remain visible to the public.
“The good thing about our campus is that we can close it down if we need it to in a hurry since we have limited access points,” he said. “With finals this week, a lot of the students are already leaving, so activity on campus is dissipating.”