How Coker's security team plans to improve safety

    How Coker's security team plans to improve safety


    Michael Williamson, Coker University’s Safety Director, is proud to serve the students of Coker. His top goal for the 2023-2024 school year? He wants to strengthen the relationship between students and his officers while keeping the Coker Community safe. 

    In 2021, Coker University reported one sexual offense and four counts of burglary. The statistics are equal to other small institutions in South Carolina. 

    “We don’t really have violent offenses on campus,” Williamson pointed out. “We don’t have fights.” 

    He credits these low numbers to officers' relationships with the student body and wants to continue the transparent relationship.

    Safety officers on campus make at least one round each night with the resident assistant (RA) on duty to combat the lack of reporting crimes. Williamson hopes these rounds will help students get more comfortable seeing officers in the residence halls. Campus safety has also invited Hartsville police officers on campus to walk rounds with Coker’s officers.

    Williamson has also invited Hartsville’s police department and fire department into the dining hall to enjoy a meal while bonding with students. 

    “We don’t want that reaction of, ‘Oh, crap, it’s a cop.’” Williamson laughed. “We want, ‘Oh, it’s Officer Jennings, or it’s Officer whatnot’ so they can have that rapport.” 

    The University has recently implemented Omnilert as the new emergency alert system on campus. The software features a “Panic Button” where students and employees can quickly alert campus security if needed. 

    “I think that all in all, crime on campus is underreported,” Williamson said. “I think you’ll go to any campus across the nation; you’ll find that crime is underreported. So we are working to establish better relationships with everybody in the campus community so that they are more comfortable and more willing to report to us.”

    Williamson encourages his team of seven officers to give rides to students when needed, even when students don’t want to carry their groceries from a parking lot to a dorm. If a student is stranded at a house or bar, officers ensure that the student is picked up and taken to a safe location.

    “We go way above and beyond what your normal security department will do.” Williamson said.