Matt Reed, Correspondent
Michael Barton, Jacksonville State’s newly-appointed chief of University Police, spoke with The Chanticleer on his plans for the future of the campus police department and department of public safety.
One of Barton’s first initiatives as chief will be assisting with the vaccination efforts on campus and in the community. JSU’s recent request for the COVID-19 vaccine puts the university in a position requiring a plan to execute the distribution should the Alabama Department of Health grant the request.
“An announcement from the state could come any day or it could not come at all, but it’s one of those situations that we want to be prepared for,” said Barton. “It’s better to be prepared than not, especially if we get that opportunity.”
Last month, the university requested 10,100 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine from the Alabama Department of Public Health. In a town hall on Wednesday, JSU’s Chief of Program Operations Jeff Ryan announced plans to host the university’s vaccination site at Kennamer Hall.
Barton returned to JSU with over 20 years of experience in public safety and management. He said that the staff at the department have been “very welcoming, supportive and informational.”
Barton, having worked in Calhoun County for several years and collaborated with JSU in the past, has an extensive network within the county that is likely to set him up for success in his new role.
In regard to the duties of campus officers, Barton said their job is to “support student success.” Barton hopes to develop a relationship between the community and law enforcement, one that is grounded in a positive, supportive nature.
“Law enforcement is just as much a responsibility of the community as it is of the law enforcement agency,” said Barton. “It is everyone’s responsibility that if they see something, to say something.”
The University Police Department offers a variety of existing services for students on campus including security escorts, victim services and student resources. The department is located in Salls Hall and can be reached at the non-emergency line 256-782-8888, or at the emergency line 256-782-5050.