Construction continues on new public safety building for Coastal Carolina University

Work is steadily continuing on a new structure that will be the first dedicated public safety building at Coastal Carolina University.

The 5,600-square-foot building that is budgeted to cost $1.5 million is expected to be open during the Fall 2013 semester, said David Roper, CCU’s police chief. It will be the first time the police department, which includes about 100 employees, has its own building.

“They kept moving and moving them, so finally we are getting a permanent location and it’s on campus,” Roper said. “We consider Coastal Carolina a little city. Coastal is evolving so much you have to have a professional police department to go along with it. We are moving forward.”

CCU has the second police department in Horry County to build a new facility this year.

In April, Loris police officers moved into the city’s first public safety building that is home to the city’s police and fire departments. The $2.1 million building replaced the original police department that was built in 1993.

For CCU officials the new building will provide greater visibility and space for state-of-the-art technology and expansion.

“The appearance of the police in close proximity to campus was an element of safety and security that became evident,” said David DeCenzo, CCU president. “Having public safety on University Boulevard [and being] very visible is something that [parents] have made comments about.”

The move into the new building also allows CCU officials to renovate the current location of Atheneum Hall into an alumni center, DeCenzo said.

CCU’s public safety employees patrol and monitor activities on the main campus in Conway and all of the satellite campuses of CCU and Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Myrtle Beach and Georgetown County, Roper said. They receive assistance from police in Myrtle Beach and Georgetown.

“It’s not a small college. We always have police officers and security officers at every campus. We get a lot of cooperation from the local jurisdictions at every campus,” Roper said. “It will help to have a location where students will come and can easily identify it if they need anything.”

In addition to normal police duties, officers issue parking permits to students, faculty and staff, and provide “Chauncey Patrol,” which escorts students and staffers at night.

The new building also will be equipped with shower and locker room facilities as well as a new dispatch center where officials can monitor hundreds of security cameras around the campuses, Roper said.

“These guys do a lot of extra work and sometimes they need to take a shower and put on a clean uniform,” Roper said

An employee was recently hired to work with a $300,000 software upgrade with the cameras to make sure they are recording, pointed in the right direction and not blocked by various objects.

“We’re really stepping up our efforts with our security. It’s going to enhance security campus wide,” Roper said.

Several theft cases were cleared by using the camera system, which monitors common and public areas of campus buildings and grounds.

“Technology is changing dramatically. Having a facility that will be wired for the technology of tomorrow will only help us in doing the work that public safety is designed to do,” DeCenzo said.

Within minutes, officers can find the video they need, print it and distribute it for identification or court purposes, Roper said of the new system.

“We are here to help the community and the students; we don’t just enforce the law,” Roper said.