An outside security company has been contracted by the College for 24-hour security detail at the Travers/Wolfe halls’ security desks. The guards, as employees of U.S. Security Associates Inc., are not instructed to use force in dealing with breaches of security in the dormitories.
The cost of the added security for the remainder of the Fall semester is estimated to be $69,000 according to Matt Golden, director of Communications and Media Relations. “The funding will come from a combination of budget lines to be determined by the president and the treasurer (of the College),” Golden said via e-mail. He also said the guards “are being paid the prevailing wage for security guards established by the U.S. Department of Labor.”
According to guards Cassandra Fuseini and Andre Geanlouis, the new security guards have not been trained or authorized in the use of force. The guards are also not equipped with non-lethal weapons, such as batons, mace or tasers. Both said violent situations requiring use of force are to be immediately referred to Campus Police.
“We don’t use force or anything,” Fuseini said. She added that part of her job as a guard is “to try and remedy (dangerous situations) without any physical force.”
Andre Geanlouis, a guard in Travers Hall, said in the event of a violent situation, his primary obligation was to notify Campus Police.
“You see that phone there?” Geanlouis said, pointing to a telephone at the end of the security desk. “We just call them. If we have somebody try to fight here, we don’t have anything to break it up.”
Fuseini said the new guards have been contracted by the College “to monitor who comes in and out (of the building) and to make sure they have proper ID” in order to promote student safety.
“You see what I’m doing right now?” Geanlouis said as he checked the keys and ID cards of students entering Travers, and returned a drivers license to another student’s guest. “That’s what we have to do.”
The occupational responsibilities of the new security guards are similar to those of a hall security worker (HSW). HSWs are school employees who operate the hall security desks during late-night and early-morning hours.
When asked if the guards were meant to replace HSWs, Golden said, “The guards are intended to relieve officers from Campus Police Services who have been logging long hours to provide additional security for students in Travers and Wolfe.”
Both Fuseini and Geanlouis said that U.S. Security Associates employees are required to take part in training sessions. Fuseini said the training is situational, preparing guards to serve at different institutions including manufacturing and industrial facilities, financial institutions, office buildings, residential communities, the retail industry, government facilities, distribution facilities, healthcare facilities and colleges and universities. She added that employees are required to undergo a drug test upon employment.
Geanlouis said certification of guards in New Jersey is done by the state government. “Everybody who works in the state now as a security guard, you have to work through training that takes about five days,” he said. Guards are then given a written test administered by New Jersey State Police, he added.
At the time of the interviews, Fuseini had been working at the College for two days and Geanlouis for three. Geanlouis said he had received information regarding his job responsibilities from College administrators. “They spent about 45 minutes talking to us, telling us what to do,” he said. He also displayed a one-page memo issued to the guards that described their duties.
According to Fuseini, Campus Police have apprised the new guards of the situation surrounding Michael Larkin, a 19-year-old from Trenton with known gang affiliations, and his ban from the College campus. Larkin was issued a no-contact order banning both his presence at the College and interaction with a Travers resident after he allegedly made a hoax 911 call regarding a shooting in the Travers 7 bathroom on the morning of Oct. 7.
“The security guards have been thoroughly briefed about all relevant issues,” Golden said.
Pointing to Larkin’s photo on the cover of the Oct. 17 issue of The Signal, Fuseini said, “They’re telling us to look out for this young man.”