High-tech public safety building open for Morgan community

The new Public Safety facility is a hub for students and faculty to express concerns about campus safety.


Giodona Campbell

Morgan State University’s Public Safety building, located in the Northwood Commons shopping center.

The new three-story public safety building will be a resource for students, parents and faculty to seek police services like reporting any crime, asking for a safety escort or conducting meetings with personnels. 

It is between the Northwood Commons Shopping Center and Martin D. Jenkins Hall (Behavioral and Social Sciences Center) along Havenwood Road and Hillen Road. 

The new building took the place of the Washington Service Center as the official home of the Morgan State University Police Department (MSUPD.) The Washington Service Center will be torn down this summer to pursue construction of a new science complex.

The public safety building became available to the public on Nov. 20, 2022.

In the building, the department has a call center, surveillance room, corporal office, and more.

The call center is where dispatchers would answer calls and file incident reports or dispatch safety escorts.

The surveillance room is one of the major places in the building. This room has two multi-monitor views of 854 cameras that show various locations on campus and off-campus housing complexes that are near the university such as Marble Hall.

The server that backs up footage from the surveillance cameras. (Giodona Campbell)

The surveillance cameras are backed up by a server that allows them to rewind and search through footage. The server is located in a next room beside the surveillance room.  Lance Hatcher, chief of MSUPD, said the cameras are for forensic purposes.

Hatcher said the police department plans to upgrade camera surveillance across campus and implement body worn cameras by 2025. Hatcher said the police department operates under the same standards as any Maryland state police department with big plans ahead for campus safety.

The corporal office is a protective gear storage room. Gear such as body vest, radios, shields, RAMs and hand-held metal detectors are stored in case of heightened events that calls for extra officers on hand. Hatcher said he is looking to resort to non-lethal weapons such as tasers.

“Since I’ve been here [16 years], no officer has fired their weapon in the performance of duty,” said Hatcher.

“Our goal is not to arrest people. Make sure that Morgan state and the community is safe,” said Hatcher. 

There is a gym for officers and recruits that has treadmills, weights, mats and a weighted dummy. One side of the gym has a full mirror on the wall.

The weighted dummy is used for training purposes for recruits before they are sent to a police academy. Every recruit has to go through six months of training at a police academy, depending on location, to become a cadet. 

A receiving port for officers to bring in prisoners from police vehicles and a sally port with two prisoner cells is included in the building as well. 

An interrogation room is located across from the holding cells where the officers talk with their suspects as well as the evidence locker where they hold any evidence and prohibited items that have been collected. Hatcher said they tend to do burns about every four months to clean the evidence locker.

An employee lounge on the third floor looks out on the South (Jenkins Social Science Building and Earl G. Grave’s Business building) campus, a recent hot spot for student parking.

Students are not permitted to park in the parking lot by the building or in the shopping center area, according to the university parking and transportation services office.

“Parking at Northwood Commons is to be used exclusively for customers who patronize the associated businesses on the premises. The University does not own or operate this property” the office wrote in a university-wide email.

Students who park in the allotted area are subject to getting their cars towed.

Giodona Campbell

“The shopping center is the one who will make the arrangement with the tow company that will tow the cars,” said Hatcher.

“There will be a spotter sitting there and once they see a student get out of their car and walk over here [Jenkins Social Science Building] and [makes a phone call] say ‘hey, the blue Honda, violation’. Tow truck will swoop in and tow the car out and that’s $250.” 

Wayne Bridgeforth, the lieutenant of management services, said overall the MSUPD’s goal is to connect with the university community. 

“Make sure embrace, strengthen , and build the relationship with the Morgan state community,” said Bridgeforth.

Giodona Campbell