Mark Lott Sworn In as University Police Chief

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A ceremony to swear in Mark Lott as Columbus State University’s new Chief of Police was held Thursday afternoon in the lobby of University Hall on CSU’s main campus.

Lott, who has held the interim position since last fall, has served as assistant chief with the Columbus State University Police Department since 2006. His experience, expertise, service to CSU, and the respect he has garnered within the department and across campus made it easy to appoint Lott to the chief’s position, said Gina Sheeks, CSU’s vice president for student affairs.

“Mark Lott has been preparing for this role since he stepped onto CSU’s campus,” said Sheeks, who serves as Lott’s supervisor. “After extensive conversations within the department, across campus and at the system level, it was clear Mark is the right person for this important role at CSU.”

Lott oversees a department that currently employees 24 sworn officers and 10 security personnel. He’s ultimately responsible for the safety of about 8,400 students, 800 employees, countless visitors and several off-campus outreach learning centers.

“Chief Lott is well respected in Columbus and throughout the state,” said CSU President Chris Markwood. “He understands that the safety of our campus and the CSU family is of the utmost importance.”

Lott is a 30-year law enforcement veteran with municipal, county and campus experience. Before coming to CSU in 2006, he was an investigator at the Troup County Sheriff’s Office and a deputy marshal with the Muscogee County Marshal’s Office. His previous campus policing experience includes stints at the University of Louisville and the University of Maryland at Baltimore.

He holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and a Master of Public Administration, both from Columbus State University. He also has earned his FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Certification and Command College Certification. Lott serves as an instructor at the regional police academy, with the Columbus Office of Homeland Security, at the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College and as an adjunct faculty member for CSU’s Department of Criminal Justice.

Lott has an extensive training record, including in areas such as crisis intervention, community policing, executive protection, police use of force, and homeland security.

“I am extremely excited about this opportunity,” Lott said. “I will continue to build on partnerships with the university and Columbus community, and I look forward to forging even stronger relationships between our department and CSU students, faculty and staff.”

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CSU Police Officers Spread Holiday Cheer

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Cougars for Causes, an annual holiday collection drive spearheaded by Columbus State University Police, recently donated several thousand toys and more than a thousand pounds of food and personal items to non-profit organizations across the Chattahoochee Valley and children residing in local hospitals over the holidays.

Goods were donated by Circle K stores, Dollar General, Winchester Family Dentistry, and, of course, the CSU community.

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CSU Police Named Inaugural Recipients of Living Our Values Award

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University President Chris Markwood honored the CSU Police department with his inaugural Living our Values award, presented to a group on campus that best embodies the university’s values on a daily basis.

Markwood surprised officers and other University Police employees with the award during CSU’s Welcome Back Kickoff event Monday, August 8. All faculty and staff were invited to the welcome event, and they gave CSU Police a standing ovation when the award was announced.

CSU Police

“CSU’s values really got our attention when we started looking at the presidency here,” Markwood said. “During the investiture week, we celebrated those values, and I reiterated the importance of these values to an organization and to me. We established this award as a special recognition for a group that frequently goes beyond what is expected but expects nothing in return – for those unsung heroes who do what they do because they care, not because it’s their job or for any accolades or attention that may come their way.”

CSU Police Chief Rus Drew was stunned and proud.

“We are truly humbled to have received this award,” Drew said. “We take a great deal of pride in our job and in the relationships we have cultivated with CSU’s students and employees. It is very gratifying to have that work recognized, and even more rewarding to hear we reflect CSU’s values.”

Chief Rus Drew

The CSU police department is a fully authorized state police agency with 38 employees that provides services to both CSU’s RiverPark and main campuses.

The department collaborates with the city of Columbus and other regional law enforcement agencies, practicing a philosophy of community policing that integrates crime prevention, problem resolution and community involvement to provide support and service to students, employees and guests.

“We should be proud that it is our University Police that are frequently called upon in Atlanta for service and expertise,” Markwood said. “They are very visible on campus, stressing accessibility, excellence and servant leadership, participating in orientations, resident assistance training and many other student group sessions to stress crime prevention and personal safety.”

He also lauded the department’s partnerships with state and local agencies, and their participation in events such as Columbus’ recent National Night Out.

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CSU Police Chief Letter to Campus about Grand Jury Review of Campus Shooting

Dear CSU students, faculty and staff,

As you may have heard, the District Attorney yesterday presented to a grand jury all the issues surrounding the shooting that occurred on our campus in March 2014.  The District Attorney said last evening that she would follow the grand jury’s recommendation that no further investigation was needed, a decision that validated the actions of our officer on campus that day.

The Columbus State University Police Department is appreciative of the District Attorney’s review of this matter. We were confident in our officer’s actions on the day of the incident, and our confidence did not waver. We were pleased to have that confidence validated by the grand jury.

This decision should underscore the lesson from this situation: if anyone brings a loaded gun onto a college campus, creates a sense of alarm by displaying it, refuses to drop it when ordered by the police, flees from police while still carrying the gun, and endangers the safety of hundreds of students, the police have a responsibility to use whatever force is necessary to eliminate the threat.

In this case, we followed our training – and the law. We will use all appropriate force, including deadly force, to protect our students, faculty, and staff.

We support the need for external review on any incident that involves loss of life, which is why we contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation immediately after this incident. The GBI’s response and follow-up investigation was expeditious and thorough.  The results of their inquiry, to include crime lab analysis, were presented to the District Attorney in August 2014.

We truly understand community sensitivities to officer-involved shootings. We feel a crucial step in restoring and preserving much-needed trust in our law enforcement system is to conduct open, transparent and timely reviews. This way, the public’s right to know is satisfied and due process is provided to all parties involved, including the police officer being scrutinized.

Without timely reviews, the confidence to do a dangerous job is eroded and questions linger among the public AND law enforcement officers. Such uneasiness can seriously impact a police department’s ability to proactively protect the community they serve.

The Columbus State University Police Department extends its sympathies to the families involved and we appreciate the continued support of our community.

Sincerely,

Rus Drew
Chief, Columbus State University Police

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CSU Police Arrest Man in Connection to Assault Last Week

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University Police arrested a man Monday in connection with the reported sexual assault of a CSU student in her residence hall last week.

The woman reported the incident to CSU police early Saturday morning. After an extensive investigation that included review of surveillance camera footage and building entry data, CSU Police today charged Larry Gene Kirkland, 50, of 1024 Broadway with one count of rape. He was taken into custody without incident at a business in downtown Columbus. Kirkland told CSU Police he is the owner of Picasso Pizza and the general manager for the Uptown Tap. Kirkland is not a CSU student.

CSU Police first contacted the victim at the Midtown Medical Center, where she reported she had been raped and possibly drugged prior to the assault. The student works part time at Picasso’s and reported that she and Kirkland had drinks after closing the restaurant on the night she was assaulted. The victim said she did not remember anything after that and woke up in her room the next day. Through video surveillance, CSU Police identified Kirkland and placed him in the residence hall with the victim.

University counselors and staff have been working with the student.

CSU Police are working with Columbus Police and the GBI on similar assaults that have occurred in the downtown area.  Anyone who has information is encouraged to call CSU Police at 706-507-8911 or 911.

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University Police Spearheading Donation Drives this Holiday Season

Cougars for Causes Holiday Bash is Saturday

Columbus State’s 3rd annual Cougars for Causes campaign is spreading the spirit of giving this holiday season with a series of donation drives that will benefit at least six nonprofit organizations in the greater Columbus area.

Cougars for Causes, led by University Police with the intent to garner greater participation in CSU’s campus community, offers participants a unique opportunity to donate different items at different times to a variety of organizations.

“Smaller efforts can sometimes fall short,” said University Police Sergeant Brett Stanelle, organizer of this year’s efforts, “but being able to have multiple organizations come together has led to greater success.”

Last year, police efforts led to the donation of 1,564 items by students, faculty, and staff.

This year’s Cougars for Causes donations will benefit:

  • Feeding the Valley
  • St. Anne Community Outreach
  • Open Door Community House
  • Valley Rescue Mission
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus
  • Santa’s Castle

To become a Cougar for a Cause, participants are asked to bring stuffed animals, toys, coloring books and crayons, or non-perishable food items to special events or drop donations in the bins located around campus.

The next Cougars for Causes event, the 1st Annual Holiday Bash, is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 6 during a basketball double-header that starts at 12 p.m. at the Lumpkin Center.

This is the first year CSU Athletics has been involved in the donation drives.

“Support from CSU Athletics has not gone unnoticed,” said Stanelle. “The work they have put into this year’s project is certain to benefit Cougars for Causes. More importantly, their efforts will help more people have a happier holiday season.”

The men’s basketball team tips off against Carver Bible College at 12 p.m., and the women’s basketball team tips off against Selma University at 2 p.m. Each game will feature a Teddy Bear Toss at halftime and an opportunity to pose for holiday photos with Cody the Cougar.

Donations to Cougars for Causes will also be accepted at University Police headquarters on CSU’s main campus and RiverPark campus until Monday, Dec. 8. For more information, please contact Sergeant Stanelle at 706-568-2022.

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CSU Police Provides Area Agency Leaders With Training on Officer-Worn Camera Systems

BodyCam03Columbus, Ga. — For years, police officers have had cameras inside their patrol cars. But for agencies such as CSU Police – whose officers spend a lot of time outside a car – officer-worn cameras are becoming part of the modern uniform.

Because CSU police officers have been using officer-worn cameras for about five years, a group of chiefs, sheriffs and marshals met at Columbus State University Tuesday to learn more about these cameras at a Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police district meeting. CSU training division staff was on hand to discuss some key considerations for the successful implementation of this technology at their agency. The training session discussed privacy issues, policy considerations, integrity of multimedia evidence, budget planning and technical requirements for an officer-worn camera program.

“As an agency, our officers spend a lot of time outside of their vehicles and we realized several years ago that we needed to develop a plan to address the contacts and situations that the officers encountered,” said Columbus State University Police Chief Rus Drew. “We have seen this across the United States as a rapidly evolving trend over the last few years.”

BodyCam02Lt. Jeremy Reddish led much of the discussion, talking about the evolution of these devices and of how the officer-worn camera market now has a selection of products geared toward the needs of law enforcement officers. “We wanted to share some of our lessons learned with other agencies in hopes that the information would aid in equipping more officers with this technology,” Reddish said. “When we started our program, most products were sports-style cameras that were adapted for police use, now products are being developed specifically for our job.”

Implementing an officer-worn camera program comes with a myriad of challenges. An agency must select a product that meets the needs of their officers. Products come with different features and can be worn in different manners, including clipped to an officer’s uniform shirt or worn like eyeglasses to record the officers’ perspective, Reddish said. Depending on the length of an officer’s shift, battery life and storage capacity are also critical things to consider.

“Since the cameras record incidents and criminal investigations, the footage has to be treated like any other form of evidence,” Drew added. Agencies must determine secure locations for data storage and must also develop practices to maintain the electronic chain of custody and integrity of files. Some products even allow agencies to purchase secure cloud storage and maintenance of their files.

BodyCam01CSU Police are currently upgrading their officer-worn camera program. They are transitioning to a more advanced camera platform, which is more durable, is equipped with low-light infrared settings to better record at night, and allows officers to take video and still images from the same device.  In addition, they are installing a secure in-house server for the storage of multimedia evidence, utilizing a software package that aids officers in uploading their multimedia files and revamping a policy for the use of their cameras. The upgrades should be completed in December 2014.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATON, PLEASE CONTACT: Lieutenant Jeremy Reddish, Phone: (706) 507-8911

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Columbus State University Provides More Details Related to Sunday’s Shooting

In response to public records requests and other requests for more information surrounding Sunday’s shooting on campus, Columbus State University is able to release the following information:

  • Several witnesses have come forward to say they saw a man running with a gun Sunday afternoon, being chased by police.
  • A Glock model 22 40-caliber pistol, holding eight rounds of ammunition, was recovered where the victim fell, adjacent to a Courtyard 1 apartment building. The weapon was turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as evidence.
  • Sgt. Ben Scott, 43, a supervisory officer at CSU since 2012 and a Columbus Police officer for 17 years before then, fired two shots at the end of Sunday’ s chase.
  • Sgt. Scott was one of three officers who responded to the initial call. CSU Cpl. Ben Pack and Lt. Jason Youngblood also were on the scene.
  • Without violating the GBI’s investigation, CSU Police were able to release a few more details about the chase that ensued after a CSU student called police to report a man was loading a gun at Courtyard 1, a student apartment complex housing more than 400 students:
    • CSU Police were called at 2:35 p.m. Sunday after a student reported seeing someone loading a handgun while sitting in a gazebo adjacent to the apartment buildings.
    • Three minutes later, CSU Police arrived on the scene, identified themselves and told the gunman to drop his weapon.
    • The man fled, running through Courtyard 1, across University Avenue and then back across University Avenue and eventually re-entering the student apartment complex. Officers were in pursuit the whole time, repeatedly ordering the man to drop his weapon.
    • When the man turned and raised his arm, Sgt. Scott fired twice.
    • Following standard procedure, Scott was placed on administrative leave with pay. Within five minutes after the shooting, GBI was alerted and took over the investigation into the shooting.
    • Five days before this incident, on March 25, Scott passed three Judgmental Pistol Shooting scenarios in a simulator.
    • In his most recent personnel evaluation, dated March 8, Scott either met or exceeded expectations on 17 performance criteria evaluated by his supervisor, Lt. Walter L. Brown.
    • Scott rose to the rank of corporal with the Columbus Police, earning the department’s highest honor, Officer of the Year, in 2004.
    • Before joining the university on Aug. 6, 2012, Scott told CSU Police interviewers that he was interested in the Tuition Assistance Program that the university offers, allowing employees to earn up to six credit hours a semester without charge.
    • Scott is currently pursuing a master’s degree in CSU’s Command College, which mostly serves mid-career police professionals. Scott, who earned an advanced high school diploma in Prattville, Ala., received his bachelor’s degree in history from Auburn University-Montgomery.
    • CSU’s policy for use of deadly force is taken from a model offered by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

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Man with Gun on CSU Campus Dies after Police Shooting

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A male non-student seen loading a gun near student apartments on the Columbus State University campus was shot by CSU Police officers Sunday afternoon, later dying of his injuries.

The Muscogee County Coroner’s Office confirmed to CSU Police that the man had been declared dead at The Medical Center. The identity of the deceased was being withheld pending notification of his family.

No one else was injured in the shooting.

As is common practice throughout Georgia, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been called in to investigate the officer-involved shooting.

A CSU Police dispatcher got a call reporting the presence of the person with a gun in Courtyard 1 student apartments at 2:35 p.m. Officers were dispatched immediately, arriving and confronting the suspect at 2:38 p.m. After a brief foot chase, the suspect turned to face officers, and shots were fired.

The suspect was transported by ambulance to The Medical Center at 3:15 p.m.

“This is a terrible tragedy,” CSU President Tim Mescon said. “We will cooperate fully with the investigation by GBI. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in this, as well as their families.”

CSU Police Chief Rus Drew said officers later confirmed the shooter was not a student at Columbus State and had no other connection to the university.

Columbus State’s Counseling Center is taking steps to make counselors available to talk to students as needed.

About 1,250 Columbus State students live in campus apartments designed for students. The main campus complex where the shooting occurred, Courtyard 1, is the university’s largest student housing area with 444 students living there.

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CSU Police Arrest Non-Students on Drug, Weapon Charges

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University police arrested two non-students on felony drug and weapon charges early Sunday, confiscating about two ounces of suspected marijuana.

Kieran Shavae Russell and Shawn Corrnell Bellamy appeared in Recorder’s Court Monday and pleaded guilty to two charges each. Bellamy, who officers determined had a 2010 burglary conviction, pleaded guilty to Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Crime and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Russell pleaded guilty to Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute and to Possession of Drug-Related Objects.

The charges were a result of their arrest in a 1000 Front Ave. parking garage used by CSU students living at nearby RiverPark Campus residence halls. University Police confiscated a .22-caliber handgun and digital scales in addition to 54 grams of suspected marijuana from the SUV Bellamy had apparently been driving.

CSU police have been increasing patrols in the area due to recent auto break-ins and reports of drug activity. A CSU police officer who was on foot patrol, Cpl. Roland Splawn, detected the strong odor of burned marijuana at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday after noticing the men quickly exiting the SUV bearing an Alabama tag parked on the north side of the parking garage’s top level.

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University Police Arrest 2 Non-Students on Drug Charges

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University police officers arrested two men on drug charges early Sunday in response to complaints about late-night illegal activity near student apartments in Uptown Columbus.

Mauritius H. Thomas, 25, of Columbus, and Melvin John Williams, 24, of Phenix City were charged with Dispensing, Distribution or Possession of a Controlled Substance and Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer.

University Police officers arrested the men, both non-students, at 3:15 a.m. after chasing them on foot for four blocks.

“Our guys did a great job of identifying (these suspects) and an even better job of running them down,” CSU Police Chief Rus Drew said.

University Police assigned several uniform and plainclothes officers to an area near student housing in The Rankin, the historic building owned by CSU at the corner of Broadway and 10th Street, after receiving complaints about suspected drug activity in a neighboring business.

An unspecified amount of marijuana was seized during the arrests.

“Both had outstanding arrest warrants stemming from previous drug offenses,” Drew said.

University Police will continue stepped-up patrols near CSU’s RiverPark campus for the next several weekends, he said.

About 450 CSU students live in apartments in about a half-dozen buildings owned or leased by the university in Uptown Columbus.

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University Police Recover About $6,000 Worth of Stolen Property

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University Police officers arrested an 18-year-old Friday morning and recovered a truckload of stolen goods believed to be tied to a string of burglaries.

University Police arrested Christopher Oaks, of 4226 University Ave., on nine counts of burglary, possession of a dangerous weapon, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a drug-related object.

stolen goodsAdditional charges are possible as the investigation continues, University Police Chief Rus Drew said.

Officers zeroed in on Oaks, who is not a CSU student, based on information from witnesses in several recent burglaries on campus. That information led police to Oaks’ off-campus apartment early Friday morning.

Among the items recovered:

  • Three flat-screen televisions
  • A computer
  • Sawed-off shotgun
  • $576 in cash
  • More than two dozen baggies of marijuana
  • Stereo equipment
  • Video games and movies
  • Shoes and clothes

“This arrest is the end result of great collaboration between University Police and our students,” Drew said. “We will now be working to identify what’s here and who it belongs to, so we can return each item to its rightful owner.”

He estimated the recovered property to be valued at about $6,000. Oaks was arrested without incident and booked into the Muscogee County Jail.

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Caption:

University Police display illegal goods, property believed to be stolen.

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CSU Police Targeting Pedestrian Safety with Teddy Bears and Ticket Books

University Police Chief Rus DrewCOLUMBUS, Ga. – Jaywalkers beware this week, but those following the rules might get a nice surprise.

Armed with teddy bears and stress balls, Columbus State University Police will be out in force later this week, on and around campus, looking for people who are obeying the laws that keep pedestrians safe.

Of course, officers will still have their ticket books handy for violators, but the purpose of this campaign is to reward good decisions. The CSU Police Pedestrian Safety Campaign on Thursday and Friday is a partnership with Safe Kids Columbus and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, said University Police Chief Rus Drew.

Officers will target crosswalk areas around both the main and downtown campuses, he said, looking for violations and also distributing educational flyers, stress balls and teddy bears to motorists and pedestrians.

They will also be checking car seats and seat belts to ensure that children a properly restrained.

Good decisions could lead to a teddy bear gift. Bad decision could lead to a ticket.

“Most of the students will be gone by the end of the week, so this will give us a good chance to target local residents and CSU staff with this campaign,” Drew said. “We do regular education efforts with students and are planning a similar pedestrian safety campaign with them next year.”

Police offer some basic rules to greatly reduce the possibility of a being involved in an accident:

* Pedestrians should always cross the street at corners within marked crosswalks where available.

* Pedestrians should look both ways before crossing the street and pay particular attention to turning cars.

* Pedestrians must obey traffic signals and “walk” and “don’t walk” signs.

* Pedestrians should wear light colors or reflective clothing when walking at night.

* Motorists must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, particularly while making right turns on red. Failure to do so can result in fines and points against the individual’s drivers’ license;
which also carries costly insurance surcharges.

* Drivers should remember never to block or park near or in crosswalks. Keep your windshield clean and be alert for pedestrians especially near schools or in areas when there is a
high volume of pedestrian traffic.

For more information, contact Rus Drew, chief of police at Columbus State University, at 706-568-2022.

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Suspect in Several CSU Car Burglaries Arrested

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University police Thursday arrested a suspect in a string of thefts from cars that were broken into on main campus in late 2009.

Kashif Leonard, 21, of Columbus faces felony charges in connection with several of the 13 car break-ins and thefts during November and December.

“We’ve got him linked to six of these so far,” University Police Chief Rus Drew said.

GPS units were taken in each of the main campus car burglaries, as well as purses and backpacks. Columbus Police worked with CSU police to trace one of the GPS units that had been sold at a local pawn shop, leading to the arrest. In Georgia, a charge of felony entering auto can be punished by one to five years in jail.

Columbus Police may be able to link Leonard to other car break-ins, and Drew said CSU police will likely bring other charges related to the use of credit cards taken in the thefts.

Leonard, who is not a CSU student, was arrested in mid-June after a standoff with Columbus Police at his Wesley Heights home. After what police described as a domestic dispute, Leonard’s wife was able to leave the home. Leonard then locked himself inside with a gun. Two shots were fired, but no one was injured. After several hours, Leonard surrendered and was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

CSU’s recent main campus car break-ins occurred in several different open parking lots at different times between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., with vehicles entered after a side window was shattered. “It’s uncommon to have these occur on main campus,” Drew said.

Students start spring classes at CSU Monday. Drew reminded them to continue to follow common-sense prevention advice to prevent thefts from vehicles:

  • Park in well-lighted areas.

  • Secure valuables in the trunk or remove them from your car.

  • Lock your car and roll up windows so the trunk can’t be entered from the inside.

  • Carpool if you can, or have a friend, parent or relative drop you off on campus.

  • Report all suspicious persons or activity to campus police at 706-568-2022.

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University Police Sting Nets Theft Arrest

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A University Police undercover operation netted a theft arrest Thursday morning of a suspect who may end up being tied to dozens of cases.

Columbus State University Police had noticed an unusual pattern of thefts around campus in the past couple months, especially in regards to unattended computers and book bags in the main library, Chief Rus Drew said.

Officers set up a sting, leaving a laptop computer on a table, with officers in plain clothes nearby secretly watching to see what would happen.

About 11 a.m. Thursday, a man picked up the computer and tried to leave the library when police officers arrested him, Drew said.

Jamario A. Farley, 29, of 1824 Elgin Drive in Columbus was arrested at the scene. Since the arrest, he has been linked to a stolen credit card and several other cases, on campus and off. As of Friday morning, he’s been charged with felony theft, four counts of misdemeanor theft, obstruction and loitering, with at least 20 additional felony charges expected by day’s end, Drew said.

Search warrants executed at his apartment and his car have produced evidence that link him to other thefts. University Police are working with Columbus Police to see if any other cases can be cleared.

Anyone with additional information that may be related to this case is asked to call university police at 706-568-2022

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CSU Tests Emergency Notification System

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University will test its new emergency notification system, CougarAlert, on Wednesday with a message delivered quickly to thousands of e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

The Dec. 19 test will be only for faculty and staff. A broader test, including an emergency drill and student notification, is planned for spring.

With a single phone call, CougarAlert allows CSU officials to schedule, send and track personalized e-mails and voice messages.

The university bought the system during the summer, and officials spent the fall collecting and compiling emergency contact information from students, faculty and staff. Each group was asked to update online their emergency contact information to ensure the system’s effectiveness.

As of Dec. 17, more than 6,000 students have signed up for the system, and more than 18,000 phone numbers and e-mail addresses have been entered for students, faculty and staff.

“We’ve had an amazing level of participation from students signing up for CougarAlert,” said University Police Chief Rus Drew.

CougarAlert will be used only in the event of an emergency. The system, powered by a product called Connect-ED, complements the university’s current emergency preparedness procedures and gives CSU another information tool during a crisis. The CSU home page on the Web, CougarNet and local media outlets will also be used to inform faculty, staff and students about an emergency.

Preparedness and notification are important components of the university’s newly revised emergency action plan, now online at http://police.colstate.edu/emergencies.asp.

The Dec. 19 message will clearly state it’s only a system test. No action will be required. For more information, go to http://www.colstate.edu/CougarAlert.

For more information, call University Police Chief Rus Drew at 706-568-2022.

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CSU Police Make Arrest in Series of Bomb Threats

Columbus State University Police arrested a Phenix City man Monday morning, just after they believe he made his fifth bomb threat against CSU.

Lawrence E. Price, 45, of 67 McMurrian Drive, was charged with five counts of making terrorist threats, and one count each of carrying a weapon to school, possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime and obstruction of a peace officer.

The weapons charges relate to officers’ discovery of several guns in Price’s pickup truck when he was arrested in a parking lot near Lenoir Hall just after 8 a.m.

University records show Price was enrolled as an upperclassman in the biology program.

According to University Police, someone had called in bomb threats against the university twice in the last two weeks. During the first call on Oct. 29, the caller did not give enough information to warrant evacuation of any buildings. The second call, on Oct. 31, prompted officials to evacuate the Faculty Office Building for a few hours.

During both incidents, University Police consulted extensively with the Columbus Police Department, the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s bomb squad. University Police also followed up on the threats by consulting with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Based on information from those consultations, officers suspected the caller might make another threat, said University Police Chief Rus Drew.

University Police identified a location where the calls had originated and, during an undercover operation Monday morning, they identified a suspect after a call indicating the presence of a bomb at CSU was made to the Columbus Police Department and to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

After police verified the call and its location, they arrested Price in a parking lot near Lenoir Hall. Inside Price’s 1997 pickup truck, they found two rifles, a shotgun, a small handgun, a compound bow, an axe, an antique saw, three bottles of alcohol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

A Bomb Squad dog checked Price and his truck thoroughly and found no indication of explosives. University Police alerted the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Phenix City Police.

“We had a lot of help in the middle of this from a variety of local agencies, but I really want to credit the officers here in the University Police department for taking this threat seriously, following through on it and making an arrest,” Drew said.

For more information, call University Police Chief Rus Drew at 706-568-2022.

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CSU Police Arrest Three After Downtown Car Break-Ins

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University police arrested three teens Wednesday night after cameras spotted a group of youths breaking into cars downtown.

WC Bradley security officers, who had turned their outside cameras more toward parking lots to help watch for break-ins near CSU buildings, called CSU Police at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. Cpl. Jason Wade responded from CSUs downtown police office and saw five young males getting into a Ford Explorer near the end of 10th Avenue. Wade blocked the vehicle, drew his weapon and ordered all five to show their hands. Two people in the group jumped out of the car and ran.

With help from WC Bradley security officers and backup CSU police, Wade handcuffed the remaining three individuals. While officers reviewed the security camera video, owners of two nearby vehicles approached Wade notifying him that both their vehicles had broken windows. In one case, a purse was missing, and the purse was recovered from inside the Ford Explorer.

Arrested were two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old from Phenix City. Each was charged with two counts of entering an automobile.

CSU Police Chief Rus Drew credited the work of his officers, as well as the assistance from WC Bradley Company.

We believe these individuals will likely have more charges against them from other similar cases that have been reported in the area, Drew said.

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