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Securing our hearts

Luntu Radebe '25

Feb 16, 2024

Campus security’s ongoing work to ensure the safety of our community's students, faculty, staff, and grounds often goes unnoticed. Our interactions with the security team are limited if we are not in an emergency. Sure, we sometimes see them patrolling around campus in their infamous blue and white security cars or pass them when entering the dining hall, only to be reminded that backpacks belong outside. However, we are unaware of their other essential work to keep our campus safe.

Our campus security officers have a wealth of experience and a vast array of law enforcement and security credentials. The team's combined expertise spreads across different states, training, and departments, providing each member with holistic field knowledge. One such officer, Chris Buterbaugh, a full-time campus security team member, spent nearly a decade working in law enforcement before coming to Mercersburg. Buterbaugh stated, "The wide array of experienced officers is very beneficial to not only the department but ultimately to the school."

The key to campus safety is ensuring officers do their job without fault every day and during every shift. A typical afternoon shift starts with the closure of campus buildings for the day. This means ensuring the lights are off, locking the doors, and safeguarding each space for use the next day. Unbeknownst to the larger student body, these tasks are essential to our daily life on campus. "It may seem mundane to check all the buildings every day and every night, but even if one door is left open, it invites an outside threat to jeopardize our safety," Buterbaugh added. While some may only assume their night-time responsibilities to ensure no one is sneaking out of their dorms at night, Buterbaugh compares it to a double-edged sword because, even more importantly, they are ensuring that nothing is trying to come in.

The collective efforts of the campus security team to provide safeguards and safety measures are not limited to the security team itself. While the officers can verify the identity of those entering campus by recognizing each face that makes up this community and knowing the vehicles that come in and out of campus regularly, it is essential to remember that they also rely on students, faculty, and staff, to aid in preventing unwarranted entry into the school. As much as we depend on our campus safety officers, they cannot be everywhere simultaneously, and they have 300 acres of land to watch over. Buterbaugh emphasizes the relationship between their officer's duties and our own to ensure our safety: "If you see something, say something. We are one call away. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, we won't be upset if you call. It takes a village."

An essential element of their duties is an overall physical presence on campus. This means keeping watch of the grounds, keeping the phones that directly connect to campus security numbers on their persons, and being situated in high-density areas when needed. Many of our campus safety officers like to fly under the radar. The "little wins" are enough to keep them going. Being behind the scenes of our campus life is just enough, accompanied by the knowledge that they are routinely keeping us safe.

The campus security team is not limited to the core full-time officers; there is a staff of just as many part-time officers who help, as needed. Along with them, our school is connected to plenty of safety personnel. We can take refuge in knowing that Mercersburg is additionally committed to ensuring that the school has a good working relationship with not only the local fire department but also the local police department and the state bureau itself. 

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