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Q&A: McDaniel College’s safety director to accept Governor’s Crime Prevention Award in Annapolis

Eric Immler is the head of McDaniel College Campus Safety, which is to receive the Governor’s Crime Prevention Award at a ceremony in Annapolis on Dec. 5.
Eric Immler is the head of McDaniel College Campus Safety, which is to receive the Governor’s Crime Prevention Award at a ceremony in Annapolis on Dec. 5. (Courtesy Photo)

McDaniel College will be recognized in the state capital Dec. 5 when the Department of Campus Safety for the first time receives the Governor’s Crime Prevention Award.

At the helm of the department is Director Eric Immler, who is no stranger to McDaniel. He became director of campus safety just over a year ago, and was previously deputy chief of the department. He returned to the college after working in campus safety at Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills. Immler has also worked for Westminster Police Department, Manchester Police Department and Maryland Capitol Police, according to a college news release.

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The Carroll County Times connected with Immler to find out what an award-winning department does to keep its students and staff safe.

Q: How long have you been the campus safety director and what are your responsibilities?

A: I have been the director of Campus Safety since October 2018 and had previously served as deputy chief in the department before leading the campus safety department at Garrison Forest [School]. So, this position brought me back to McDaniel where I get to work with my colleagues both in Campus Safety and other departments at McDaniel. As the director of Campus Safety, I provide leadership and support to McDaniel’s Department of Campus Safety. I am responsible for maintaining a high-functioning team that is trained in their job expectations and integrated into the broader campus community. My role analyzes and determines community safety needs and develops programs and systems to respond to those needs. I also coordinate the emergency preparedness and response procedures for the college community, as well as monitor state and federal laws related to campus security and law enforcement. In addition, I participate in on-campus, local, regional, and national professional development activities related to campus safety and protection.

Q: McDaniel College will soon receive the Governor’s Crime Prevention Award at a ceremony in Annapolis — what do you think Campus Safety has done to earn this recognition?

A: This award is really recognition for our outreach efforts on campus. The Department of Campus Safety delivered or participated in over 90 formal and informal safety programs on campus. These ranged from personal safety and commercial and residential physical security initiatives, to sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention and drug and alcohol education. With a majority of our students living on their own for the first time, personal safety for college students is a primary area of focus for our department. We focus on direct contact and presentations in a conversational style to enhance dialogue between officers and community members.

Q: What type of incidents does Campus Safety respond to the most? How does Campus Safety attempt to decrease the frequency of these incidents?

A: Providing assistance or guidance is the primary goal of our response to ensure a safe educational environment for our students. Campus Safety responds to a broad variety of security, fire and medical emergencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and our officers regularly patrol the campus by vehicle and on foot. We also work closely with the Westminster Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies regarding issues and concerns that might affect the college. Our officers are looked upon as non-traditional educators, and education and awareness are really the key ways to reduce incidents.

Q: How has McDaniel’s approach to campus safety changed over time?

A: Campus safety is a collaborative effort at McDaniel, and my department works to establish partnerships with students, faculty and staff to maintain a secure campus. I feel that this is reflected in our motto: “Working Together for a Safe Campus.” We have also utilized equipment and technology, such as the expansion of electronic card swipe access into residence halls. Additionally, we have added an emergency response trailer that can be easily transported and set up anywhere on campus as a mobile incident command trailer. This trailer has been equipped with supplies to aid and assist in a variety of incidents, as well as large events on campus, such as Homecoming.

Q: In light of the recent firearms incident at Hoover Library, what are the college’s policies on gun control?

A: The college’s Code of Student Conduct prohibits the unauthorized possession, use, or storage (anywhere on campus) of weapons. This includes, but is not limited to, firearms, BB guns, soft pellet guns, air soft guns, paint ball guns, air rifles, and facsimiles of such weapons or any object or instrument which has been designed or altered to appear to be a weapon, or which can reasonably be construed or used as a weapon (dependent on the circumstances of its use, possession or display). The use of any such item that harms or threatens, or reasonably causes fear to others is not permitted.

Q: Would you say that was an unusual or rare occurrence at McDaniel? Can you provide an update on the investigation?

A: Weapons violations are a rare occurrence on campus, as indicated in the statistics that we provide to the campus community in the annual Fire Safety and Security Report. College officials, Campus Safety and Westminster police responded immediately upon learning of this occurrence. I commend the quick and thorough response by our officers and the Westminster police to take steps to ensure the campus remained safe. Because this is an ongoing investigation, the college is limited in the information that can be shared at this time. Nevertheless, this incident is a good example of how members of the community came together to share information and concerns that helped to safeguard the McDaniel campus.

Q: In general, how is the campus community notified when an emergency occurs?

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A: The Department of Campus Safety issues a timely warning to the campus community for crimes and/or emergency situations that have already occurred on or near campus that are reported to the Department of Campus Safety or local police agencies. These warnings are distributed through the campus email system. These messages also provide strategies and safety tips for preventing a similar incident from occurring on campus. In the event of an imminent, life-threatening emergency, the campus community would be notified through the McDaniel Alert system, which distributes messages via phone and campus mail.

Q: What’s the future look like for McDaniel Campus Safety? Are there any changes planned for the near future?

A: We continually assess our resources, as well as review and update our policies and procedures, as necessary. It is also important that our officers have the most up-to-date training in order to provide a high level of service to the campus community. We’re continuing to enhance our use of technology while also building partnerships with students, faculty and staff, so that we can continue “Working Together for a Safe Campus.”

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