On May 15, 2009, the Alabama House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 50, which will allow for the formation of a campus police department at Oakwood University. The bill was sponsored in the state legislature by Senator Tom Butler (D), at the request of Oakwood University. With passage on May 15 by the House of Representatives, the bill will be sent to Governor Bob Riley to be signed into law, reports Lewis Eakins, Director of Public Safety at Oakwood University.According to Eakins, “Law enforcement status elevates our (Public Safety) department to an increased level of preparedness and readiness, and it facilitates our planning for, responding to, and recovering from criminal incidents that may occur on the campus. It will serve as a deterrent in discouraging trespassers and others who may come to the campus to commit criminal offenses.”Crime deterrence is only one of several reasons why this transition was sought. There will be unlimited grant opportunities to fund salaries for additional officers and training, and for the purchase of equipment, access control systems, CCTV systems, and other electronic countermeasure systems. “A full transition is going to take some time because current and new officers will have to go through a state-mandated screening process to include physical fitness and aptitude testing, and medical and psychological screening. Officers will then have to successfully complete a 480-hour basic police academy in Anniston, Alabama,” Eakins said.Oakwood University appreciates the response and support of the Huntsville Police Department and other area law enforcement agencies throughout the years. The University will soon be poised to lessen the load of these agencies and be in a position to reciprocate when called upon.
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