Meet Gonzaga's security director John VanSant
John VanSant, who took over as director of Gonzaga University’s campus public safety and security earlier this year, has more than 20 years of experience in emergency preparedness and response.
For VanSant, that experience has helped build a strong network of highly beneficial contacts in the greater Spokane area.
Previously, VanSant worked as an employee of the Spokane Regional Health District — serving as a program manager since 2004. He also worked as director of emergency services for the American Red Cross.
VanSant attended Washington State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in criminal justice. VanSant has been busy in this, his first semester, assessing campus security by reviewing best practices in the profession and evaluating what is needed to make Campus Security as effective and efficient as possible.
“Security is 10 percent of the equation. The other 90 percent lies in the responsibility of the individual to make good judgments,” VanSant said. “Students need to assess their decisions, and should not hesitate to call and report any situation to campus security or the Spokane Police Department.”
Gonzaga has experienced a sharp increase this semester in the number of robberies of students walking near campus late at night. VanSant has stepped up Gonzaga’s security for students by adding several more off-duty Spokane Police officers to increase neighborhood patrols and by urging students to make good decisions about their safety, such as traveling in large groups and using Campus Security escorts and the Gonzaga Student Body Association’s SafeRide if needed.
Suspects Collared in Gonzaga-Area Robberies
Van Sant and other Gonzaga administrators, faculty, staff and students were gratified to hear that all four suspects in a series of armed robberies near Gonzaga in March and August have been arrested. Two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old were arrested in late October in connection with the robberies. The final arrest occurred Nov. 10. All of the youths face robbery charges while one of the 15-year-olds is charged with first-degree attempted murder for an August incident in which a gun was fired through a door after a victim had locked himself inside a home, said Spokane Police Sgt. Joe Peterson. The robberies near Gonzaga have stopped since the arrests, Peterson said. In addition to the armed robberies in March and August, police said the teens were involved in an armed assault in August, an attempted robbery Oct. 11 and two armed robberies the weekend of Oct. 17.
VanSant’s office is in the Campus Public Safety & Security facility in Welch Hall. If students need an escort, VanSant encourages them to call campus dispatch at (509) 313-2222.
For more information, VanSant can be reached at (509) 313-3996, or via e-mail.