State of Security

A conversation with Director of Campus Security Richard “Rick” Murray

Peter Holden Chao

PHC: There was a recent break-in, for the second time, into the compost trailer by the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management building. What happened with that?

RM: We came in the morning and the doors were jerked off the hinges. Apparently, in the middle of the night someone went in and I imagine something must be missing, someone would not have gone through all of that and not taken anything so we filed a police report. Security noticed that it was broken into and what we could figure out, was that somewhere around 4 a.m., we could see evidence that someone had drove up in that area and drove out maybe 25 minutes later. There’s nothing substantial where you can tell a make or model of a car, or facial recognition, just something that had happened from the closest camera angle that we could see. During our regular patrols the next morning it was discovered that it had apparently been broken into and we made a police report.

PHC: Because this is the second time, how do you go forward from here?

RM: The further things are from the nucleus of the campus, the harder it is for us to secure them. The agriculture buildings are problematic, as far as being able to secure them. If we had all of the resources, we could have security officers in all of these other places, or we could have security cameras and other technology in all of these other places, but we only have the staff and the equipment that we have been mandated through our budget. So I don't know, but I would ask you since you’re asking the question, what would your suggestion be?

PHC: My question back is what are those restrictions? How many people patrol at night? How many people patrol during the day?

RM: We have a staff of about five folks at night. We have one that’s allotted to the residence halls and then we have the two sector patrols. We have the campus split into two different sectors, sector one and two for the main campus. We also have a motorized patrol that is responsible to patrol our off-site areas. We have a supervisor and a dispatcher, someone who’s answering the phones, and the supervisor oversees them. While that might sound like a lot, if you just kind of like visualize out the landscape that we’re talking about, it’s hard. I would say that even if we had two more officers at night than we have, I really couldn't say that there would never be any more break-ins.

PHC: What are they required to do? Yesterday I biked around campus probably within five minutes. What are these people doing during their shifts? Are they supposed to hit certain spots during certain times?

RM: No. It's not timed because you don't want to give up a pattern. I always tell my security officers that when they’re patrolling, even at night, or at 4 a.m., there's more people watching them then they're watching. We try not have too much of a pattern of our patrol, like we wouldn’t be like ‘at 10:15 we’re going to be here and at 10:20 we’re going to be here.’ If we did that, I think we would run into more problems. We at least try to have the element of surprise by staggering. You try not to make that patrol in the same way.

PHC: What are the parameters that the security officers are allowed to operate in? What are they allowed to do in an instance that something is happening, say a burglarization or transient on campus? What are they supposed to do or what are they trained to do?

RM: First of all, I would say that I don’t want my security officers to be in the position of knowingly getting physically involved with anybody. Now that’s not to say that it might not happen because obviously they have a duty to protect themselves if they are in harm's way. For the most part, we observe. We look for suspicious activities or any kind of safety and security hazards, and we report them. As far as crimes, like a burglary or something in progress like someone's trying to steal a bike off a bike rack, we would address that straight forward. As far as coming across an area that has been broken into, what we would do is probably like what you would probably do: we’d call the police department and we would file a police report and turn that whole investigation over to them.

PHC: For your security officers, I want to clarify: there are people who are wearing tan uniforms and people who are wearing black uniforms; do they all fall under this office?

RM: Yeah.

PHC: What’s the difference between the two?

RM: The folks that you see in the tan uniforms, for the most part, have something to do with parking. They’re either in the front booth selling parking tickets or making sure everybody that comes on has a parking permit, giving directions on how to get around or where you’re going. The other person would be patrolling the parking lots, looking for any vehicles that are parked outside of our policies and regulations. If you're a certain zone, you’re supposed to be in here, or if you're in this parking area you have to have the correct parking certifications. If you don't then they would ticket violators. Certainly violators that are parked in fire lanes, handicap stalls, blocking access gates or anything like that. Also parked in reserved stalls, like if we drove past the chancellor’s parking stall and someone else, say Joe had parked there, Joe would get a ticket. That’s what they do.

We have one more contract guard who is dispatched to the residence because housing has requested security specific to their area, so the guard that is in the residence halls from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m. basically patrols in and about that area. Therefore if something does happen in the residence halls there should be a guard very close. When you’re thinking about these tan shirt guys, how long have you been here?

PHC: Two years.

RM: Since I got here a year and a quarter ago, we’ve been methodically going from contract to in-house security. Now what you see is 90 percent in-house campus security with just a few contract guards which is the ones that I named.

PHC: The 90 percent, is that a shift from contract guards to now state employees?

RM: Yes and no. We didn’t just go out and hire 20 people at once. We would hire for five, and then four more, then for three more, and then for four more over the time. What happens is as people apply for those jobs because they’re civil service jobs, all of the contract people know about it, so they all have applied for these jobs. Many of them have gotten the job and have gone from contract here to in-house here. A good eight of them were not able to make that transition and lost that job to someone from outside. Maybe 2 out of 3 of our staff in house at one time were contract guards here and 1 out of 3 of our staff that's in house were not contract guards here. They won the job by beating out the contract guards who were here.

PHC: What are the qualifications to become an in-house security guard here?

RM: The qualifications are not that much: one year of experience in security or I believe the military, you have to have a valid driver's license, and you have to have a high school diploma. That being said, once you become a security officer there are many certifications that you now have to have within at least your first six months. That is you have to have FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), you have to have NIMS (National Incident Management System) FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) certification, which is something called ICS 100 HE and 200 C now. ICS is Incident Command System. You have to have Title IX certification. You have to have First Aid and CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certifications. You do blood borne pathogens and all of the other things like workplace violence.

I’ve sent my guards through the training that has come out of the counseling offices. The training that basically is how to recognize people in distress and how to deal with those situations. Then as we go on, some of our guys will do further training like there's a CPI, which is Crisis Prevention, which I've been certified to teach for some years. My certification had lapsed and I recently went to Oʻahu to get recertified to teach. The plan is that we're going to be offering that to our guards over the summer but probably, even my goal, is to offer it to some of our faculty later on down the road with the assistance of some of my more top-notch guards.

In a nutshell, while it might sound like all you need is a driver's license and a high school diploma to be a security officer, well and the one year experience, it's my responsibility, it’s our responsibility, that once we get these guys on board to make sure that they are trained. I like the word trained better than certified because just because you have a certification doesn't mean you necessarily can do something. So whether it’s incident response, first aid, CPR, or recognizing folks who might be suicidal, there's a lot involved in crisis prevention. I think it probably takes about a good five years to create an in-house Security Department that has it all. I mean you look like you have the standard operating procedures out. It's not something similar, like you can go to another college and say, ‘well they have all of this.’ They’ve been in existence for 25 years. This is a security department that a year and a half ago was under the supervision of a contracted company that the manager wasn't even on this island. So now we've gone from that to a more standard and robust in-house security team.

PHC: What are the other things that security guards are able to ticket for? We talked about the parking; are there other things that can yield you a fine or ticket?

RM: No, just parking. Now can we make reports on other things? Why certainly. But a ticket, I think the thought would be a ticketing process is some kind of citation. Citing that comes with a monetary penalty, like you know here is a $5 ticket for spitting on the sidewalk or for littering. No we only ticket for parking violations.

PHC: Do all of the Emergency Call Boxes work on campus?

RM: So that's kind of like a tricky question because there's a bunch of them. I will say to my knowledge they all work and the one that you were testing works. It works just fine; it always worked fine. I was probably one of the first people that was faced with the allegation that somehow the call box wasn't working, but that's just not the case. You’re familiar with the radio system, right? It’s a two-way radio system. So if I wanted to talk to my guy outside, I press the button and I keep the button pressed down, and I can talk all I want but he can’t talk back to me until I release the button.

What happened on that particular day is that the person reached up and they just stayed on the button. That's not a criticism; it’s an emergency situation, and it’s panic we’re dealing with, which is something we’ve never been exposed to before, but that's what happened. So you should know that even though that happened, that didn't slow down the security response at all because security can hear them. We have the camera right on the spot. We automatically dispatched security, so even from their end and they were going like, ‘they don't hear me,” but actually we are already out and see what's happened and have already dispatched someone so what I did probably 20 minutes after the ambulance left, and I'm talking to folks, and someone said, “yeah - but the emergency box - they pushed the box and it didn't work.” I went right there and pushed it and talked to security. Five minutes later I did it again just to make sure.

Now could a case be made that maybe there should be instructions on the box that say to not keep your finger on the button. I guess the reason why it's not is because probably the expectation was - that would kind of be a given. Security can hear everything going on and immediately go to the camera that's right there and immediately dispatch someone out. Once you have your finger on the button for so long then what happens is it overrides the back and forth communication and it goes into a recorded spiel. Of course, when you get a recorded speil, you're not talking to anyone. But again, I think it is important to reiterate that security response was not a second later then it would have been had she pushed the button and released it and talk to security.

PHC: How fast was the security response?

RM: Three to four minutes. Let me tell you something, and if you're honest with yourself, you'll know this: anytime you're in a panic situation, the time seems a whole lot longer than it really is. It was a few minutes for the first security officer to arrive.

PHC: Was CPR performed? Were any on-site procedures taken in that moment?

RM: I’m also a certified CPR and first aid instructor. So you would only perform CPR on someone who didn't have a heartbeat, and you would only do rescue breathing, what we used to call mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, on someone who wasn't breathing. Neither one of those was the case for Kelly [Leong]. His heart was beating and he was breathing. So what the security officers did was they put him in what is called the recovery position to make sure it’s less likely that he would choke on vomit and to make it more likely that his airway was open. And to make it less likely that he could swallow his tongue, they cradled his head off the ground and waited until EMS arrived.

PHC: Looking back on this, would you say that the proper approach was taken, that they did it the right way, and that they performed well to their training?

RM: Yeah, I would. You know we live in a litigious society; so my saying is that if something like that happens on campus, there's going to be a lawsuit. Just because someone's done the right thing doesn't mean there’s not going to be a lawsuit. You understand about the ‘Good Samaritan Doctrine,’ right? I used to work at a university where their biggest class was the school of nursing. I worked at Hawaiʻi Pacific University for about 10 years before I came. Those guys were so conscious of liability, even though we had folks who had PHDs in nursing and master's degrees in nursing, whenever something happened on campus they wouldn't touch folks. It’s always been my belief that you know we have a duty to act and then that's what we did. You know obviously the outcome was unfortunate. Yeah, I couldn't say that my guard did anything wrong; they certainly did the best that they could do, and their intent was to try to be helpful and try to help save this man's life. It didn't work out that way. If someone wanted to say that, ‘well it's because security did this or didn't do that,’ I'd be really disappointed, but you know people can say whatever.

It’s not just hard for the university; it's hard for us too, you know. We’re one of the first to respond and we've got this guy right's a loss all the way across the board.

PHC: With everything that’s been going on with security from your immersion in this program and being here and things have gone on this year, what do you say about the state of security here at UH Hilo? Is it well done? Are we learning everyday? How would you say that we're doing, and how would you grade where we're at right now?

RM: Well, I would think that every security program is still learning everyday. I wouldn't be willing to give myself and my department a well-done, I would leave that up to the others. I certainly do know a lot has been done since we've become in-house. You know the Emergency Response Guidebook that we put together and the Emergency Response App that I hope you have on your phone, that was put out, if I'm not mistaken, within eight months of the time that I started. That's a big undertaking and that deals with all of the issues that happen on a day-to-day basis.

All of the things I listed: CPR and the certifications of the security officers, my guys have all of that. You don't have to have any of that to be a security officer, but to be a UH Hilo security officer, those are the things that you have to have.

Hopefully we're going to get better but, Peter, let me just be honest, whether you live in Hilo, Hawaiʻi or New York City, there are things that are going to happen, whether it’s false missile alerts, earthquakes or lava flows, shooting scares, break-ins, vehicle accidents, falls, medical emergencies, there are always going to be issues. I want to be kind of thick-skinned and know that people want to know, especially you, because you’re working with the newspaper. I don't want to feel like every time something happens, it’s not the fault of anyone, it’s just how the universe works, or the idea, ‘let's see what security did or didn't do,’ because that's kind of unfair. We'll keep pushing and trying to get better. Are we where we want to be? No. If you ask me that two years from now it'd still be no, because we always want to get better.