security

Junior nursing student Quinita Johnson waits Tuesday to check in students at Stevenson South Towers.

Campus security proved its capabilities Sept. 7 with the arrest of Cinque C. Simmons, of Chicago. Simmons was a student at NIU until Sept. 7 when he was arrested at Huskie Stadium and charged with the possession of a firearm without a firearm owner’s identification card, according to court documents. NIU Deputy Chief Jason John said the means by which he attained the handgun are still under investigation.

John said Simmons was in possession of the loaded weapon while in the Stevenson Towers lobby. Simmons has been banned from campus and faces criminal charges, with the possibility of seven years in prison, according to court documents.

Despite the success of NIU police in arresting Simmons, he was still able to enter a residence hall with a loaded weapon. This should not have been possible, and new security measures must be established at the residence halls.

“The safety of our students is a top priority at NIU,” John said. “We have a police force of sworn police officers, all of whom have not only completed police academy but also emergency medical technician training and receive ongoing training in areas such as crisis intervention. They patrol campus and the surrounding neighborhood 24 hours a day and work closely with DeKalb Police to create a safe environment.”

Simmons was first spotted when DeKalb police tried to pull over a grey Jeep registered to him, according to court documents. Between the initial contact with Simmons and his arrest at Huskie Stadium, only 16 minutes had passed, making this an efficient arrest by NIU Police.

Despite the precautions taken by NIU police and other security entities on campus, a weapon was brought into a residential hall undetected by building security. The last thing students need to worry about is weapons being brought into their living areas.

This is not the first instance of a weapon entering a residence hall. In December of 2018, a stabbing occurred in Grant Tower C which sent the victim to the hospital.

“NIU Police staff conduct regular checks of common areas such as lobbies [and] elevator areas during the late-night hours,” John said.

All residence halls are fitted with the same basic security measures of video cameras and guest registration systems, according to the campus safety website.

This incident highlights the need for improved security measures when entering residential halls. There’s no doubting the efficiency or competency of the NIU police and other campus security, but if a student can enter a residential building with a loaded weapon, changes must be made.

“It’s a continuous process,” John said when asked about the possibility of future changes to residence hall security. “The more we continue to look at all the security features we have at the residence halls, I’m impressed with the ongoing initiative we have.”

This is not an encouraging statement after a clear flaw in security was exposed through this incident.

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