WUPD to send security memos and bulletins campus-wide
All members of the Danforth Campus community will now receive security memos and informational bulletins from the Washington University Police Department, WUPD chief Mark Glenn announced in an email Tuesday.
Previously, security memos and bulletins were generally sent only to students residing in areas close to where the reported incident occurred. Memos and bulletins inform recipients of recent criminal activity in their surroundings, unlike Crime Alerts and Wash. U. Alerts which alert the campus to a serious threat in the vicinity.
Glenn said the old policy was meant to preserve the serious tone that accompanies the notifications.
“The fear is that if people were getting multiple [memos or bulletins] they would get a little desensitized to it,” Glenn said. “But I think when we see how fluidly our community moves from neighborhood to neighborhood, it just makes sense to ensure that people have an idea of what’s going on, not only in the areas they live, but in the neighborhoods they might be traveling through.”
According to Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Rob Wild, the administration received a large volume of requests from students asking that the less urgent notifications be sent campus-wide.
“I understand why,” Wild said. “I think people want to know all the information, and think if they have all the information that exists, they can make safer choices themselves.”
This change follows a recent string of crimes in the area surrounding the Danforth Campus. The incidents include a carjacking, two robberies and two attempted break-ins in the Skinker-Debaliviere neighborhood. The campus was put on lockdown for 22 minutes on the morning of Feb. 6 after a university employee was robbed on the sidewalk next to the northwestern corner of campus.
Glenn says the crime surge led the department to double their efforts in patrolling the surrounding community.
“Anytime something like this happens, we take a hard look at what we’re doing about it and see if we can help,” Glenn said.
Multiple officers approached Glenn in the wake of the crimes to volunteer for extra patrol shifts.
“Some of our administrative officers we put in the neighborhood, as well as some of our security officers, to make sure we’re putting some extra resources into those areas to help with the officers that are already working,” Glenn said.
WUPD also instituted “hotspot” patrols on the 6100 block of Waterman where the recent carjacking and attempted break-ins took place. On the same block in September 2018, a student was confronted by two men, one of whom was armed, who demanded her car keys.
WUPD will also add additional patrols at the Big Bend and Skinker MetroLink stations. Glenn said he has instructed officers to spend more time observing the underground platforms. According to Glenn, the low lighting and isolation of the platforms and the instant access to a means of escape make them attractive targets for criminals.
According to Glenn, a new WUPD bicycle patrol unit is also in the works.
“We are hiring officers right now to fill that bike unit,” Glenn said. “We’re also developing a policy decree for that specific team. We should have that team up and running fulltime pretty soon.”
Vice Chancellor for Operations and Technology Transfer Dedric Carter says there are no plans to revive the University’s partnership with Uber, which gave students living off-campus twenty dollars of free ride credits each day. The deal was introduced after a series of armed robberies in September triggered outcry that the University was not taking student safety seriously enough.
“Uber was always a temporary solution…[it] gave us space to think about more permanent measures that are as effective and readily available to our students,” Carter said.
According to Carter, the University has expanded the coverage map of the Campus2Home shuttle; the percentage of students living off-campus with access to the shuttle has risen from 61 percent to 78 percent.
Skinker-Debaliviere neighborhood resident senior Peter Rosston says that he has noticed the increased police presence, but thinks the University should be quicker when it comes to reporting crimes.
“Sometimes we’re not hearing until the next day or two days later that an incident occurred; and I think once they have that sort of information, they should be disseminating it to all of us who live off campus,” Rosston said.
Wild says they are constantly working to improve based on feedback from the university community.
“Our goal is always transparency,” Wild said. “If we have info that we think will help the community be safer, we will do everything we can to share that information.”