Off the Cuff: Robert “B.J.” Jones

Robert “B.J.”Jones is going on his third year as director of Safety and Security at Oberlin. Before coming to the College, he spent 20 years as Chief of Police for the City of Oberlin. He graciously agreed to sit down with us for a few questions.

What’s your job?

Basically it’s a management position. I’m in charge of compiling the budget each year, outlining what training the officers will have and monitoring the day-to-day activities.

How has the budget crunch been affecting your office?

It calls on us to tighten our belts in terms of things we would do. We cut down some training and some equipment, monitor our overtime, stay as lean as possible. We’re highly monitoring our spending.

Has it impacted your ability to keep Oberlin secure?

No, so far it has not. We’re sort of locked into a level of service that’s not as flexible as other departments are. We have to maintain the number of people that we have in order to supply the services for the College community.

I hear that someone recently broke into the Security building.

It was a situation that happened, that someone broke into the security building. We have a theory of what happened, but we keep that theory closed. There was no outer motivation of what happened, of why the person broke in — unless to retrieve some information or whatever. We don’t know who it was. Nothing was destroyed or stolen that we can find. We’ll see if the truth surfaces.

Have you figured out who stole the womb chair, and how?

No we haven’t. We have a few scenarios on how it may have been done. Whoever it was, they were quite clever.

Do you have any other crazy stories to tell?

Not really. I haven’t seen any funny stuff. We’re just trying to keep ahead and be proactive in the level of services we provide. Sometimes it gets kind of reactive, like on Drag Ball night or Safer Sex night.

Are there usually a lot of problems on those nights?

It’s a lot of alcohol usage. A lot of that stems from pre-parties, when you are going to have intoxicated people. You’re going to have, not major problems, but some disruptions and disorderly conduct, and some over-indulgence.

What sort of things are you doing to make Oberlin safer?

We have internal crime prevention programs. We are trying to coordinate that with the RAs and have officers to come in and give safety talks, and basically inform the population of how they can be safer. I have meetings monthly with colleges to see what their policies are on the use of alcohol in the room, open containers, parties, permits—all of these things. We try to keep abreast of what we can do better, things to serve the population.

What’s one thing that students should be doing to stay safe?

I think it’s important to have mental alertness, and not be so open. I go back a long time before this 9/11 alert system was put in place. I go back to a military alert system, where there’s white and orange and red — white is when everything is safe, orange is where things are unusual, red is when things don’t seem right. You need to take precautions.

What are you concerned about?

I think one of my concerns — not just my concern, it’s a concern of staff and other security directors around — is about the high usage of alcohol. I think we have to educate our population and individuals have to be responsible and accountable for their own actions. I know that being young, and being away from home, there are certain things that students are going to try. But after it’s tried, you have to evaluate that experience. Does it become a safety issue? Too much becomes a safety hazard and can put a person in a state of impairment. Then anything can happen, can spin off.
Other than that, it’s a matter of keeping the department going, keeping good relations, doing as much professional training as possible, so that we can deliver good services to the campus.
Interview conducted by News Editor Jesse Baer.


November 8
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