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.
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.
has the budget crunch been affecting your office?
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.
it impacted your ability to keep Oberlin secure?
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.
that someone recently broke into the Security building.
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.
you figured out who stole the womb chair, and how?
we haven’t. We have a few scenarios on how it may have been
done. Whoever it was, they were quite clever.
you have any other crazy stories to tell?
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
there usually a lot of problems on those nights?
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.
sort of things are you doing to make Oberlin safer?
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?
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.
are you concerned about?
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.