Major Gardner is the chief security adviser for about 12 University of Georgia fraternities and handles security for most major Greek community events. In order to look learn more about what he and his team do to ensure the safety of Greek organization members, The Red & Black sat down with Gardner for a question and answer session.
The Red & Black: As chief security adviser, what exactly is your job?
Major Gardner: I handle all the security for major events and safety. So I interact directly with the [organization] president, the social chair, the finance chair and all of the participants that come to the event.
R&B: How does security guard differ from a police officer?
G: Police officers do an awesome job, but their training is a responsive law enforcement training, which means they get a call and respond to it. Then they mitigate from there. Our training is based off of mitigating situations before they occur, so there’s no response. We also know how to respond to situations. We’re certified in CPR and first aid. We’re certified and licensed to carry firearms. If our client requires that we do that, we’re able to carry firearms, even on campus ... So we differ in that we deter activity prior to it occurring so that the liability is reduced substantially. The police do a good job, it’s just a different kind of job. They enforce laws. We protect our clients.
R&B: How did fraternities come to hire you?
G: Chi Phi is the first fraternity that hired me. I’ve been chief security adviser at Chi Phi for about five years now. A lot of the presidents or vice presidents have been to various events where we did the protection services, and they were having issues with people that they were hiring. They would just get guys that were bouncers at bars to do the security and kept having revolving door problems, such as the people not really knowing anything about security. They weren’t certified or licensed. Once most of them recognized that we were professional, that’s when the other fraternities [began] contacting through Chi Phi.
R&B: What sorts of situations do you see at fraternity events and how do you mitigate them?
G: A lot of the things that we do would be crowd control [to] make sure people aren’t getting out of hand. We do traffic control. We have to protect some of the artists that come in that the fraternities may have perform. We do a lot of safety checks on doors, windows, hallways, fire alarm systems, parking lots. We check that any cords from stages or riggings are safe so they don’t affect participants as well.
R&B: You’ve expressed concerns about safety issues and crimes on campus, and have proposed a Campus Safety and Security Program. What is your proposal and what does it entail?
G: I just envision a private patrol service that was maybe a tad more detailed than what law enforcement already does. What I’ve envisioned is first starting at the fraternity and sorority level and see if I can get each one to contribute a small amount each month — not anything too high — that would allow us to have a budget. It would substantiate a budget where we can have bicycle patrol officers and maybe a couple of vehicle patrol officers in and around campus where we would are able to spot or deter things before they can occur, because we’re checking doors or we’re making that when we see a female walking by herself we can pull over and ask if she wants a female officer to take her where she needs to go ... We just need a better presence out there. I’m open for ideas on how to make it work, but I’m available and have the manpower and the skill sets necessary to increase the safety and security on campus.