Parking lot guards lack weapons

Jennie Kushner

If you see a security guard in one of six parking lots on campus at night, don’t worry. They won’t shoot.

Captain Larry Montgomery, associate director for security resources with the University of Alabama Police Department, said the Security Resource Assistants are the eyes and the ears of the UAPD. Montgomery said the security guards are not sworn-in as officers, but wear a uniform.

Guards’ booths are located at the front and back Tutwiler lots, Riverside East, Rose Towers and Ridgecrest North and South, Montgomery said. SRAs regularly patrol all lots on campus.

“I am proud of the work they do,” Montgomery said. “They are not armed. We don’t train them to be, and we don’t want them to be. We teach them to retreat from any danger.”

Montgomery said SRAs see a lot of action but it typically is not criminal.

“Since we have put security resources in these lots, vehicle break-ins and criminal mischief has gone down drastically,” Montgomery said. “We almost have no crime occurring in those lots.”

Cathy Andreen, UA spokeswoman, said because the SRAs are in uniform, they are a big deterrent to someone like a criminal. This authority figure goes a long way, she said.

Montgomery said on a typical day, 13 people work the afternoon and the night shifts. On day shifts there are about five people.

However, gamedays require more attention, he said.

“We have 39 people working; we do the driving details so we usually have eight or nine people working on that,” he said. “We also assist officers at the student gates and help in the student sections.

“They are present in uniforms but don’t have enforcement duties.”

Montgomery said the SRAs also work traffic posts to assist the police officers in directing traffic after the games.

Montgomery, who has worked for the University since 1978, said the University implemented an electrical locking system for doors in 2004.

The division officers who aren’t sworn in will check doors if an alarm sounds or a malfunction occurs.

Montgomery said UAPD has a Safer Living Guide to help students be safer on campus.

“Try not to travel alone and stay in well lit areas,” Montgomery said. “If you are in an area where you feel unsafe, call us. If you are walking to your vehicle and need an escort, we are here for that.”

Students said they appreciate the effort the University is taking to make them feel protected, but they question if a deterrent like unarmed security guards is enough.

“Even though they are unarmed, they still give off the illusion to unwanted guests that they do have the ability to take action if needed,” said Elizabeth Lowder, a senior majoring in advertising. “If I was in a problematic situation in one of those areas, I would assume that the guard would be able to help me immediately. It is misleading for students who feel that they are protected.”

“I think it is a waste of our money and someone’s time to have a physical body sitting in a parking lot all night long who can’t do anything if a dangerous situation arises,” said Kiara Smith, a freshman majoring in business. “Honestly, what is the point of them?”

Robert Fender, a senior majoring in business, said he thinks the guards instill a sense of safety in students.

“I think they’re a good thing to have because they can be there faster than police or anything if there’s an emergency and they give students a sense of protection, especially late at night,” he said.