Duke Departments Can Start A ‘Facility Watch’

Partnership with Duke Police brings programming to campus offices and clinics

Duke lab assistant Shawn Johnson, right, serves as a Facility Watch coordinator for his building, Medical Sciences Research Building II, and is an alumnus of the Duke Police Citizens' Police Academy. In this photo, he poses as a locked-out motorist recei
Duke lab assistant Shawn Johnson, right, serves as a Facility Watch coordinator for his building, Medical Sciences Research Building II, and is an alumnus of the Duke Police Citizens' Police Academy. In this photo, he poses as a locked-out motorist receiving help from Duke Police. Photo courtesy of Duke Police

Shawn Johnson works as a lab assistant in the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, where he collects and sterilizes biohazard waste and lab instruments.But Johnson also has a second safety role at Duke, in which he connects more than 200 employees to crime prevention training. He serves as Facility Watch coordinator, a volunteer liaison to Duke University Police, for his building, Medical Sciences Research Building II. “Overall, you feel safer,” Johnson said after a Duke Police training seminar. “The more comfortable employees are talking to police, the more likely they are to report something ahead of time.”

The Clinic/Facility Watch Program fuels partnerships between the Duke University Police Department and University and Health System departments to prevent crime on campus. Duke Police officers rely on Clinic/Facility Watch committees, comprised of a coordinator, assistant coordinator and floor representatives, to serve as liaisons and help schedule crime prevention programs within their departments.

The Facility Watch educational programs offered by Duke Police include:

•    Coffee with a Cop, an informal town hall meeting with Duke Police personnel, including Chief of Police John Dailey•    General crime prevention tips•    Suspect description exercise•    Flashpoint – How to spot concerning workplace behaviors•    Shots Fired – How to handle an active shooter scenario •    Engraving sessions

In September, Johnson, the Duke lab assistant, helped organize a training session in his building, where employees learned how to respond if an active shooter scenario unfolded in their workplace.

Eric Hester, a Duke Police crime prevention officer who was leading the hour-long presentation, had participants contemplate the different decisions they could make if reacting to a shooter. They could get out of the building, hide out or defend themselves, he said. Hester told the audience to be aware of their surroundings, such as the number of perimeter doors and stairs there are in the research building, and to add the Duke Police phone number to their phone contacts list: (919) 684-2444.“I really look at this program as a way to empower folks if they found themselves in this type of situation,” Hester said. “Facility Watch helps create a stronger awareness on campus.”

Cindy Bowman, a veterinary technician with the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, said the active shooter response tips shared through the Facility Watch program have helped her hone her response mindset.

“You hope and pray it never happens,” Bowman said, “but if it were to happen at Duke or elsewhere, then you have options in your back pocket.”

Departments interested in starting a Facility Watch Program should contact the Duke University Police Department at (919) 681-5609.