Security Update: A Conversation with Adrian Wiggins

Adrian Wiggins walks fiercely into the room, as if prepared for a showdown.  He knows why he’s here. The young journalists and Morgan students closely watch Wiggins, the executive director of the Office of Campus and Public Safety for the past year, as he commands the packed room, forcefully asking students to introduce themselves. After listening to student introductions from Baltimore, Prince George’s County, Philadelphia and New Jersey, he tells them about his upbringing in Jamaica, Queens – a part of New York City.  Today’s real topic though, is Morgan’s safety, or as Wiggins puts it, “hot crimes and hot times.” Wiggins concludes his monologue and that’s the room’s cue. The students are ready and so is he.

Q: Is there a reason why cops are in the Morgan View alley during the day time and never at night?

A: The cop car is in fact in the alley day and night. It depends on the time.  We police based on location, the history of crime at that location and the frequency of students traversing that area. So, the area you speak of, intermittently throughout the day and night, [have] officers there based on what we believe to be hot times for hot crimes.

Q: What are the hot times for hot crimes?

A: Just about any time you want to be out. This is Baltimore City, and urban cities are no stranger to crime. I would say the same common sense and crime prevention techniques that you utilize when you are at home, utilize them when you come to Morgan State University.  You cannot check your brains at the door.

Q: Approximately how many security booths are on Hillen Road and was there any strategy in placing them there?

A: There are four booths along Hillen Road and a fifth booth where the tennis courts are, for a total of five booths. The strategy was … we look at the crimes that have occurred in the past.  We look at which vantage points are going to be most advantageous for us to have someone to be able to observe students and faculty moving throughout Hillen Road.

Q: What went into hiring?

A: We opted to go with a security company, because it was easier to place individuals in those booths in time for the first day of school.

Q: How have they been trained?

A: One, they’re certified security guards through the State of Maryland. The other thing is, we give them an orientation about our campus, about how we respond to things, about our paperwork, about our policies, etc. And then they’re deployed.

Q: Around what time should we see them in the booths?

A: Again, it’s about hot times, hot crimes. They’re there most of the time in the evening. So when you leave evening classes, you should see them along Hillen Road.

On that point, didn’t we just have a robbery within site of one of the security booths?

There was a reported robbery near the security booth, and we put out what is called a crime alert…. But that particular report, we were sort of befuddled as to where it happened and some of the information and the details of that may or may not have been the truth, or we could not tell what transpired. But, to err on the side of caution, we took the person reporting the crime at their word and we reported that crime, we logged it, investigated, and we also sent out that crime alert to let you all know: “Hey we received a report of something happening in that area and this is the case” and to be on the look-out for persons that look this way.

Q: What’s the status on that investigation?

A: The investigation is ongoing.  We have not come across any intel, any suspects or anything related to that particular crime.

Q: Have you decided that it is not a truthful report?

A: Without data to suggest that it’s not truthful, we have to leave it in a category that we call unfounded.  That means that we could not prove or disprove it happened.

Q: Is there a way that they can get booths over at Marble Hall Gardens?

A: While we don’t have a booth at the Marble Hall Gardens facilities, we do have a contractual security guard that works there at night until 4 a.m. That person’s job is to ensure that those gates remain closed, and they do checkpoints throughout each building in both courts.  It would help us greatly if you live in Marble Hall or if you visit Marble Hall, that you keep those gates locked. We also have a tandem of police officers who patrol the shopping center even though it is not our property.

Q: You seem to want students to be more proactive in taking care of themselves and letting you know when there is something going on. How do you combat the “Don’t Snitch” culture?

A: It is hard to combat the “Don’t Snitch” culture. I’m a professional snitch. You know why? Because I have a vested interest in the safety of my community. If I allow my neighbor’s house to get robbed and I allow the person to get away, it’s only a matter of time before my house gets robbed.  I’m acting in the greatest level of selfishness that I can. You have to act in your own self-interest.  You’re telling us about something going on in the community. We don’t look at that as snitching.  I’m worried about me being safe. I’m worried about my property value, and the branding and reputation of my university because when I graduate from Morgan, I want to make sure that the name on that sheepskin is worth something. This is your school, your university.  You have to take ownership of what happens here.

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