Francis Marion is committed to providing a safe and secure campus environment for all of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The University offers a range of tools, 24-hour campus police presence, and emergency preparedness guidelines at all times.
Safety & Security
FMU offers a multitude of tools across campus to ensure student safety at all times. This includes:
- Smoke and fire alarms in each apartment.
- Intrusion guard on each unit entry door.
- Fire sprinkler systems in Residence Halls and Forest Villas.
- “Blue Light” Alarm system for 911 assistance across campus.
- Well-lighted grounds and parking areas.
- Security Cameras in public areas
Residents are strongly urged to carry your keys at all times and to lock your door when you are not in the room. Residents are encouraged to be active in maintaining a safe and secure community. Residents should report any threats to safety to the RA or Campus Police. These might include, but are not limited to, suspicious persons in the building, damage to doors, windows, screens or locks which may have been tampered with, poor lighting at entrances and exits or malfunctioning phones at main building entrances.
A safe and secure living community for residents is important. Any action on the part of a resident that threatens the safety or security of another resident or his/her property will result in disciplinary action. Potentially dangerous actions include, but are not limited to, providing or allowing entry to nonresidents or unauthorized individuals, propping locked doors, loaning keys, accessing student rooms other than one’s own, taking another’s property, tampering with locks, and/or removing screens from ground floor windows.
Reporting Crimes & Suspicious Activity
To talk to an officer, to report a crime in progress or to report suspicious behavior, call Campus Police at 843-661-1109; or call 911 for emergencies.
Report as much information as possible including:
- What the person is doing
- Where it is happening
- What the person looks like and a description of that the person is wearing
- Were weapons involved, and if so what kind (gun, knife, club, etc.)
- If they are in a car, what is the Vehicle description and license number
- When you last saw the person(s), what was their direction of travel
Do not approach or attempt to apprehend the person(s) involved. If possible and you feel comfortable doing so, stay on the telephone with the dispatcher or officer and provide additional information as changes occur in the situation until the first officer arrives at your location.
Campus Safety Tips
- You should never walk alone! Walk in groups to class and to and from parking lots. However, if you must walk alone, have a plan and choose open well lighted and well traveled areas. Walk confidently, directly, and at a steady pace. Consider using the Campus Escort Service. Call 661-1109 for an escort to your destination.
- When walking, you should walk facing traffic. Be cautious of drivers that stop to talk to you. Never get into a stranger’s vehicle. Never hitchhike.
- BE AWARE of your surroundings! Giving the appearance of not paying attention and not being alert is what offenders look for in a victim.
- Always tell someone where you’ll be and what time you expect to return.
- Do not wear headphones while walking or jogging.
- Do not read while walking or standing on the street.
- Clogs, high heels, and tight skirts are hard to run and fight in. Capes, scarves and long necklaces are easy to grab. Consider modifying your clothing.
- Avoid being on the street alone if you are upset or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- If you are being followed: cross the street, change directions, keep looking back so the person knows you can’t be surprised. Enter a residence hall, library, etc. Go to a well-lighted populated area and ask for help. Notice as many physical details as possible, so you can describe the person to the police.
- TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS: If something “feels wrong,” something probably is wrong.
- If you feel you are in danger, attract attention anyway you can. Don’t be reluctant to scream and run. Don’t be afraid to loudly call attention to what the assailant is doing (“Help!”, “Get your hands off me!”, “This man is bothering me!”, etc. ).
- Never work alone in an office or classroom on campus at night. Use the buddy system. If you are alone in an office or classroom keep the door locked, always ask who is knocking before opening the door and never prop open locked exterior building doors. Let Campus Police know where you are and when you intend to leave.
- Always report an incident or suspicious persons to University Police at 843-661-1109.
- Always lock your door when you leave the room, even if you will be gone only for a minute or just “going down the hall for a moment.” It takes about eight seconds for someone to walk into an open room and remove an item.
- Lock doors and windows when you are alone or sleeping.
- Do not prop open doors to your building; this potentially puts everyone at risk.
- Keep emergency numbers near your phone.
- Do not leave messages on your door, or voice mail, etc., indicating you are away or when you will return.
- Report suspicious persons on your hall to your RA or Campus Police. Never let a stranger into your room.
- Be cautious of telephone surveys and NEVER give out any personal information to persons who call you. Never give your phone number to a stranger.
- Never leave purses, wallets, jewelry and other valuables unattended in laundry rooms, kitchen areas or around a swimming pool.
- Make a list of your valuables with a description and serial numbers and keep it on file in your room. Write your name on or in textbooks to reduce theft. Consider enrolling your property in Operation ID. Contact Campus Police at 843-661-1109 for more information.
- Keep ATM cards, credit cards, etc., in a safe place. Do not leave them lying out in the open. Never leave them on a dresser near your door. It takes less than 10 seconds to look into your open room and steal items from a dresser near the door.
- If someone is prowling outside your residence or loitering in the vicinity of your building or room, turn on several lights, call Campus Police (1109 or 911) and Residence Life staff.
- Never light candles or use open flames in your room. This is prohibited by Housing Policy and has been linked to campus fires on a number of occasions.
- Do not enter your home or apartment if you find a door or window open, or if it has been burglarized.
Upon discovering a fire, explosion, or smoke in a building, activate the fire alarm system. Find a red pull station located on a wall and pull down on the lever. After sounding the alarm, call the Campus Police Department at 843-661-1109. Tell the officer who you are, what you have and where the problem is.
If you are trained to do so, after sounding the alarm you may attempt to contain a small fire by using available fire extinguishers. If the fire is beyond your control, or involves potentially explosive materials, evacuate the building.
When a fire alarm sounds, complete evacuation is required. Close doors and windows as you leave. Walk, do not run, to the nearest stairway exit and proceed to ground level. Do not use the elevator. Leave the building and move away from it. Leave sidewalks and drives open for arriving fire and police personnel. Notify police or firefighters on the scene if you suspect someone may be trapped inside the building.
The alarm may not sound continuously. If the alarm stops, continue the evacuation and warn others who may attempt to enter the building after the alarm stops. Do not return to the building until directed to do so by the Campus Police Department.
Planning ahead can save your life. Here are some things that you should know about your apartment or residence hall:
- Know the layout of your floor.
- Know the location of pull stations on your floor.
- Know the location of stair exits.
- Know the number of doors between your room and the exit stairs. You may need to find the stairs in the dark.
- Know the location of fire extinguishers near your room and on your floor.
- Know where the alternative exits are in the event one is blocked.
Before the fire, Things To Do…
- Keep a flashlight ready and in a handy place.
- Report fire hazards to your RA.
- Keep your hallway clean and free of trash, furniture, etc. Make sure these items are stored properly and collected regularly.
- Be careful not to overload electrical circuits and use approved electrical extension cords. Short circuits are the cause of many fires.
- Cook with care. Double check the stove to make sure it is turned off before you leave the area. DO NOT LEAVE FOOD UNATTENDED WHILE COOKING.
- Never smoke in bed, and make sure there are no smoldering butts when you empty ashtrays.
- Make sure you exit from your room during a fire drill…to a designated area.
If There Is A Fire…
- Stay calm and don’t panic!
- Check your door before exiting your room. Feel the doorknob. If it is hot, do not open the door. Seal the cracks under the door with sheets or towels. If there is smoke in the room, crack the windows at the bottom and at the top, if possible for ventilation. Call Campus Police at 1109.
- If the doorknob is not hot, brace yourself against the door and crack it open. If there is heat or heavy smoke, close the door and stay in your room. Call Campus Police at 1109.
- Activate the fire alarm or call Campus Police at 1109.
- Exit the building and shut all door and windows as you leave.
- Alert others by knocking on doors.
- Exit by using the nearest stairwell. Do not use the elevator and do not run.
- If your hall is filled with smoke, stay low while exiting.
- If the fire is small, use the fire extinguisher to put it out. If you are unsure that you can put it out with the extinguisher, evacuate.
- If you can exit, be sure to wear shoes and a coat as appropriate.
General Evacuation Procedures for Persons with Disabilities…
In all emergencies, after an evacuation has been ordered, the following applies:
- Check on people with special needs during an evacuation. A “buddy system,” where people with disabilities arrange for volunteers (neighbors/classmates) to alert them and assist them in an emergency, is a good method.
- Always ASK someone with a disability how you can help BEFORE attempting any rescue technique or giving assistance. Ask how he or she can best be assisted or moved, and whether there are any special considerations or items that need to come with the person.
- Evacuate or assist people with disabilities to get to the nearest stairwell if possible.
- DO NOT use elevators, unless directed to do so by police or fire personnel. If the evacuation has been ordered due to a fire, elevators could fail during a fire. Police or fire personnel will know if the elevators can be used.
- If the situation is life threatening, call 1109 or 911 from any campus telephone.
- Attempt a rescue evacuation ONLY if you have had rescue training or the person is in immediate danger and cannot wait for professional assistance.
Aiding Persons with Specific Disabilities during Emergency Situations…
- Blindness or Visual Impairment
- Give verbal instructions to advise about safest route or direction using compass directions, estimated distances, and directional landmarks.
- DO NOT grasp a visually impaired person’s arm. Ask if he or she would like to hold onto your arm as you exit, especially if there is debris or a crowd.
- Give other verbal instructions or information (i.e., move to the stairwell, elevators cannot be used, etc.).
- Deafness or Hearing Loss
- Get the attention of a person with a hearing disability by touch and eye contact. Clearly state the problem. Gestures and pointing are helpful, but be prepared to write a brief statement if the person does not seem to understand.
- Offer visual instructions to advise of safest route or direction by pointing toward stairwell exits or evacuation maps.
- Mobility Impairment
- It may be necessary to help clear the exit route of debris (if possible) so that the person with a disability can exit to a safer area.
- If people with mobility impairments cannot exit, they should move to a safer area such as the nearest stairwell. If that is not possible, they should move to an office or other room with the door shut which is a good distance from the hazard.
- Notify police or fire personnel immediately about any people remaining in the building and their locations.
- Police or fire personnel will decide whether people are safe where they are, and will evacuate them as necessary. They may determine that it is safe to override the general rule against using elevators.
- Lock your doors and roll up your windows. Most thefts from vehicles aren’t because the thief breaks into the car, it is because the thief pulls on door handles till they find one that is unsecure and then grabs whatever they can. Lock your car and roll up your windows!
- Don’t leave your keys in your car. Take them with you.
- Park in well-lit areas. If you notice a light out, contact Campus Police or maintenance so they can get it fixed.
- Don’t leave valuables in your car. This means bookbags, purses, ipads, phones, money, etc. Don’t leave them in your car and especially don’t leave them where people can see them.
- If you see something, say something. You know who belongs on campus and who doesn’t. If you see someone suspicious, give Campus Police a call at 843-661-1109 so your FMU Police Officers can check it out.
- Always keep your car doors locked, especially at traffic signals.
- Always close all windows, especially the vent window, lock them and activate the anti-theft device when you leave your car.
- Control your keys. Keep your car keys and house keys on separate rings. Never have an identification tag such as a miniature license plate or nameplate on your key ring. Never hide an extra key in or on the car, criminals know where to look for extra keys.
- Never pull up to the bumper of the car in front of you in traffic. Leave yourself room to drive off if confronted by someone while stopped.
- Keep your purse, tapes, valuables, etc. out of sight when your vehicle is parked. Always lock your vehicle so entry to the trunk cannot be made from the inside. Secure all valuables in the trunk of your car or remove them. Leaving expensive items in full view invites theft.
- Never leave the title or registration in the car. Thieves can use these important documents to sell the car or impersonate you if challenged by the police.
- Never pick up hitchhikers. If someone approaches your vehicle and attempts to enter it, blow the horn and/or drive away.
- Stay alert while approaching your car in a parking lot. Be aware of your surroundings and have your keys ready before you get to your vehicle. Look in your vehicle before you get in.
- At night, park in a well-lighted area and in lots more frequently used by others.
- If you are confronted with an armed assailant, the decision to comply or resist is a personal decision based on the circumstances. Remember that any property you possess is not as valuable as your life.
- Report all suspicious persons or activity to the Campus Police immediately at 843-661-1109.
General Safety Tips
- Be careful about giving out personal information on the internet, in chat rooms, public postings, e-mail, etc.
- Do not give out credit card numbers on un-secure sites. NEVER use credit cards for ID or age verification.
- Do not post personal profiles in public messaging systems.
- Use caution when someone you meet online wants to meet you. Until you are certain of an online acquaintance, restrict contact to e-mail, chat rooms, or public postings.
- Never pay money to get money. These are usually scams.
- Do your online shopping from a reputable business.
- Change your password often. Utilize passwords that incorporate both numbers and letters.
- Do not share your password. Don’t write it down and leave it lying around next to your computer.
- Never open attachments from unknown sources.
- Invest in good anti-virus protection software and use the latest version of your browser to ensure you have the latest security features.
- Do not reply to unsolicited (spam), harassing or offensive e-mail. You should save the offensive material and forward a copy to your e-mail provider or the customer service department of the offensive e-mail.
Be wary of the following scams and others:
- Business Opportunities: (get rich quick schemes, work at home schemes, pyramid schemes, chain letters, sending bulk e-mail, etc.) – these offers make it sound like it is easy to earn a lot of money without much effort, and of course, a “small” investment. If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is.
- Health and Diet: – miracle cures, herbal formulas for weight loss, scientific breakthroughs related to burning fat, secret formulas, etc.
- Investment Opportunities: – promises of high returns and no risks, promises of being privy to inside information, Ponzi Schemes (like a pyramid scheme in which early investors are paid with money from later investors, but as you invest more you will lose your money).
- Loans and Credit-loans regardless of credit history, easy term scams, credit repair scams, etc.
Students often make a difficult situation even worse by responding inappropriately when confronted by a law enforcement officer. We want to help you understand what to do when stopped by the police in an effort to help them reduce potential problems. At some point in your FMU career, you may be stopped and questioned by a police officer, either on campus or off. This could happen for a variety of reasons:
- The person may have committed a traffic violation
- The person or the vehicle may fit the description of a crime suspect
- The person might appear to be in trouble or need some type of assistance
- The person may have witnessed a crime or may be in an area of risk due to a crime or emergency
- Another citizen may have made a complaint against you and the officer is trying to determine if the complaint has merit
- The officer may be stopping you for Campus access control reasons
It is natural for students and others to feel confused, anxious, or even a bit angry if they are confronted by police. Law enforcement officers may be anxious as well, as they never know when a “routine” matter can get out of hand or create a risky situation, particularly after dark. The best advice for students in this situation is to cooperate fully with police. Law enforcement officials suggest the following things for people to try to remember when stopped by police:
- If driving and you see the overhead red and blue lights and/or hear the siren, stay calm and pull over to the side of the road
- Remain in the vehicle unless asked to exit by the officer
- Avoid sudden movements and keep hands visible
- Encourage any passengers to remain calm and cooperative
- Avoid being argumentative or confrontational – if you want to fight a ticket, do it in court
- Be honest in your responses
- Remember that many departments have one-person patrol cars, so it is not out of the ordinary to have two or more police cars on a site at a time
- In all cases, if an officer asks you to identify yourself, you are not required by law to do so. However, your cooperation will speed the process of the encounter.
If you are a student, you are required by FMU policy to carry at all times and present your FMU Identification Card to any University Official upon request. University officials include FMU police officers. You can locate the policy in the Student Handbook under FMU (ID) Card Services.
If the officer is investigating a crime or complaint, they may also ask reasonable questions to help them determine whether a crime has occurred or a complaint is valid. We encourage you to do your best to answer the questions the officer poses. Refusal to answer questions may prevent an officer from clearing you of suspicion and unnecessarily prolong the situation.
Ordinarily, a police officer may not detain you for more than a reasonable length of time. There are exceptions however, which would occur under very unusual circumstances such as public disorders, large-scale emergencies or major crimes/incidents.
If an officer asks to take you somewhere else, you may ask if you are being placed under arrest. If you are not under arrest, the officer should explain why he or she feels you need to be moved. You may refuse to go, but this may lead to an arrest or an additional charge based on the specific circumstances. If you are placed under arrest the officer must tell you with what crime you are charged.
If during any encounter with a Police Officer, you feel the officer has acted unprofessionally or treated you rudely, you may file your concern to a supervisor. If this is the case, please stop by the Campus Police office during normal working hours and ask to speak to a Campus Police supervisor.
On the other hand, if you have observed an officer act in an exceptionally professional and admirable manner and you would like that officer to receive public and professional recognition, please contact a Campus Police supervisor in person or by phone. We appreciate all feedback.
If you wish to write FMU Police, please do so at:
Francis Marion University Police
PO Box 100547
Florence, SC 29502-0547
The Swamp Fox Emergency Alert System has been adopted by Francis Marion University in order to quickly notify students via SMS text messaging and email in the event there is an imminent campus emergency or other urgent campus alerts. All students that provide a cellphone number and cellphone carrier will automatically be added to our notification system. In addition to being notified of an imminent campus emergency, students will also receive notifications regarding other situations that affect the status of the campus like weather-related class or school closings.
If you’re a student, faculty, or staff member who has not been enrolled in Swampfox Alerts please contact the Office of the Registrar to do so.
Address: 4822 E Palmetto St. in Florence, SC
J. Howard Stokes Administration Building – Room 118