Driving in or out of Newton campus, one will notice an additional sign has appeared on the side of the road. The sign indicates seat belt compliance for the current month as well as the previous month. The sign coincides with the $7,500 grant Newton campus Public Safety recently received.
In fall 2010, Newton public safety office was awarded the Young Adult Alcohol Awareness and Seat Belt Compliance grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Currently, the Newton campus remains the only campus police department to receive this grant.
The purpose of the grant is to educate students with information about the dangers of alcohol as well as seat belt compliance. The Public Safety Office at GPC Newton Campus has confidence that by arming the students with this information there will be a reduction in the amount of alcohol and seat belt incidents in the surrounding community.
“ We were also awarded funds to purchase Fatal Vision Goggles and other Alcohol Awareness educational equipment to be used at events.” Says Lieutenant Andrew Moore, who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the grant, along with grant administrator Leonard Conner.
Also new within the public safety office are the changes to gun laws on campus. Previously, Georgia code 16-11-127.1 prohibited bringing weapons onto campus. The College also prohibited weapons on campus per the student code of conduct. The new law allows students to store weapons in their vehicle if they have a carry permit.
However, exiting the vehicle with the weapon while on GPC property warrants a misdemeanor, said Moore. “ If you are on campus without a permit you are committing a felony.”
Previously, there was a school safety zone that prohibited those who were authorized to carry firearms on school property. The new law has been set in place to protect permit carrying persons from prosecution for having a weapon in their vehicle during transport.
Why the change? Should students fear for their safety as permit carrying students bring weapons on and off campus during the day? “ These laws were changed to provide legal carry of weapons to and from schools.” Moore explained.
As of now the public safety office is only able to use visual clues to monitor the students on campus. “ The consequence of being on campus with a weapon are arrest and jail,” Moore said. “Don’t do it.”