Santa Fe Police Station

A police vehicle sits outside the Santa Fe Police Station on Monday, Nov. 18, 2014. 

Santa Fe College has made a national achievement in public safety. 

The college was ranked second in the country in campus safety initiatives by Safe Campus, a program dedicated to improving campus safety. Because of this recognition, the Santa Fe Police Department is also a finalist for the Department of the Year Award that will be announced Feb. 26.

There were 4,298 U.S. accredited higher-education institutions eligible for this ranking. Safe Campus released a list of the top 25 university departments that made a difference in student safety on Friday. Santa Fe College ranked above two Florida universities, Lynn University and Florida Atlantic University. UF was not listed in these rankings.

The college’s campus safety program highlighted initiatives such as reducing crime, department’s branding and messaging and community policing partnerships.

It was an honor for Santa Fe College to be recognized, said Jay Anderson, the spokesperson for the college. 

“The college’s police department has been recognized for a number of different things over the years,” Anderson said. “So this is another reinforcement of that.”

The police department takes cutting edge technology seriously. It was the first department in the region to have body cameras and is one of only five community colleges in the Florida College System with a full-time campus police department, said Ed Book, the Santa Fe Police Chief.             

“I consider the work the police department does integral to making sure that the students have a great education experience,” Book said. 

Uniform Crime Report crime statistics — which collects data on murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault and burglary  — showed that Santa Fe College’s crime rates have decreased from 89 incidents in 2011 to 18 in 2018. Although its police department has not yet completed reports for 2019, Book said he believes that it is about the same number.

Valentina Torres, a 20-year-old Santa Fe College nursing sophomore, said it’s a relief knowing she is at one of the safest campuses in the nation.

“As a girl, knowing that we’re unfortunately more vulnerable to these kinds of things,” she said. “It definitely feels like a lot safer to just be there overall.”

Contact Valentina Botero at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @lvbotero.