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Campus Safety Awards Presented

From Amanda Guthorn, Campus Safety:

The Department of Campus Safety hosted their annual awards ceremony on October 21 at Keddy House for the 2014-15 academic year.

Campus partners Matt Salter and Corey Davis from the Student Conduct Office, Asst. Dean of Students Kent Drake-Deese, and Keene Police Liaison Officer Kyle Macie were recognized for their continued support. Campus Safety Officer Charlie Smith received the Director’s Award.

Officers Mike Gomez, Charlie Smith, Toni Taylor, Jessica Trombley, Linda Shedd, Adam Martinez, Diane Steeves, and Glen D’eon; sergeants Brendan Bosquet, Joel Huntley, and Victor Malavet, Associate Director Stuart Mitchell; and Assistant Director Leonard Crossman received commendations for valor from Director Amanda Guthorn for their actions during Pumpkin Festival Weekend 2014.

As Amanda said in her remarks: “The weekend of October 17, 18, and 19, 2014, Keene State College and Campus Safety faced one of its most significant challenges. Keene’s annual pumpkin festival had traditionally been a big party weekend for KSC students, particularly those living off campus. In the last several years, we had seen increasing numbers of out-of-town guests, increasing attendance at parties along with an increasing level of aggression, as those wishing to cause harm were lost in the crowds, making them difficult to identify.

“We worked closely with other law enforcement agencies on social media monitoring, and planning and deployment to mitigate danger to our students and community. We communicated with landlords, made visits to student apartments and houses and worked with other campus departments to encourage responsible behavior; however, 2014’s pumpkin festival weekend changed drastically in its size, scope and timing. We planned on maximum staffing during historically busy times, in the evenings and overnights, particularly on Saturday. But the reach of social media, specifically Finnarage and YikYak, changed how the weekend would unfold.

“Finnarage brought their road show to Keene on Friday, ‘amping’ up the size and intensity of parties and other activity. The Saturday parties that typically started mid to late afternoon were in full swing before noon time. Finnarage “yakked” and “tweeted” out their party location on Island St., drawing hundreds of college-aged people. When the party was broken up and people herded towards the campus, thousands of people filled Winchester St., Blake St., Wilson St., Davis St., and Wilcox Terrace. Another drive was made by the crowd to Winchester Court with people filling the back yards of unoccupied houses and throwing bottles into the crowd.

“Keene Fire Department set up a temporary triage area in the Spaulding Gym, treating over 40 injuries. The parties and crowds continued well into the night as law enforcement from all over the state travelled to Keene to contain the crowds as families continued to enjoy the actual Pumpkin Festival in downtown Keene, for the most part unaware of what was happening around the campus.

“During all of this, the men and women of the Department of Campus Safety worked diligently, and in the face of impossible odds, to protect the students, the campus, and the community. Officers worked hand-in-hand with statewide law enforcement partners keeping students out of the downtown area and moving them back on to campus or to their homes. The staff worked amid the bottle throwing, the swearing, the yelling, the screaming, the chanting, the charging, the finger pointing, the destruction, and the devastation. They kept their heads when all others were losing theirs.

“The weekend of October 17, 18, and 19 was undoubtedly one of the longest weekends of my professional career and most likely yours. Your actions, cool heads, clear thinking and your calm demeanor unmistakably mitigated serious injury to others and additional destruction to campus.”

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Sarah Kossayda
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