City Hall veteran to lead campus safety preparation
Hiring of Emergency Preparedness Coordinator part of changing safety measures
October 2, 2007 3:17 PM
While the University of Memphis canceled classes and locked down its campus Monday morning following the fatal shooting of 21-year-old student and football player Taylor Bradford, Gayle Orr-Smith coincidentally started in a new position later in the day as the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for SF State.
“We are very fortunate to have her,” said Penny Saffold, vice president of student affairs.
Orr-Smith enters the job after working in various capacities at San Francisco City Hall. She was deputy mayor of public safety under Mayor Art Agnos, where she oversaw emergency services in the aftermath of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Orr-Smith has also served on the San Francisco Police Commission, and on Mayor Gavin Newsom's 10-Year Plan Council to tackle chronic homelessness.
“The administration is very excited to have her here,” Campus Police Chief Kirk Gaston said. “Particularly someone with her experience and qualifications.
Gaston said the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator position was formally filled by officers working the shift part-time. With the addition of Orr-Smith this is the first time they have formalized it to a solo-position.
The Campus Police have already started working with Orr-Smith on planning safety strategies and moving forward with revisions, Gaston said.
“She’s already started even though she’s getting her parking permit,” Gatson said in regards to Gatson moving forward even though she’s new and settling in this position.
Saffold said that in light of recent similar events such as the April massacre at Virginia Tech, the campus has been looking to step up their existing security system.
“We feel that we’re safe but we did evaluate our campus after Virginia Tech,” Saffold said.
In addition to the new campus Emergency Preparedness Coordinator position, the campus began asking students for their phone numbers in early September so students can be contacted via text messaging. If an emergency situation happens on campus all students should be notified immediately, Safford said.
“That’s one of the reasons we’re trying to get this rolling,” said Jo Volkert, associate vice president of enrollment planning and management after hearing about the University of Memphis shooting.
“What they learned at Virginia Tech is that emails are too slow,” Saffold said.
Volkert said that student response for the request for contact information has been steady.
Gatson said that the university police department is prepared to react to any criminal activity as they network with other agencies outside the university.
“We’re very proactive in our crime prevention,” Gatson said. “We welcome anybody from the community to come in with any safety concerns, or any concerns, so we can address (them).”
A few SF State students expressed that in spite of the shootings happening at various universities across the country, they feel safe at SF State.
“I do feel very safe on this campus,” said SF State student Liz Freeman, 18, after learning about the University of Memphis shooting “But I think this is unfortunate that this is happening in this country.”
Fellow student Josh Hallis said although he’s not tuned in to the types of security measures in place at SF State he maintains his own sense of feeling security.
“I’m not really too scared about that happening here,” he said.
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