April, 2011 Campus Safety Update

To: The Campus Community
From: Marlon Lynch, Associate Vice President for Safety and Security and Chief of Police
Date: April 8, 2011

With warmer weather approaching, I am writing to update you on some security initiatives around campus, and remind you of safety tips we all should keep in mind.

As you spend more time outdoors, you will likely see more of the officers who have been a regular fixture of our campus throughout this year. We’ve had a very good response to the North Campus Patrol introduced in the fall—two officers dedicated to the area between Woodlawn and Ellis avenues, and 55th and 59th streets, working from 6 p.m. and 4 a.m., Wednesday through Saturday, getting to know students, staff and faculty who live and work in the area.

You will also see uniformed security patrols on the Midway, between 59th and 60th Streets, from Ellis to Dorchester avenues, from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Feel free to ask one of the officers you see for a walking escort across the Midway. Security officers are also stationed at 56th and Ellis, and at 58th and University—stop by and say hello.

Electronic access equipment has now been installed at all buildings on the main quadrangles, giving us better control of who enters the buildings after hours, and instant information in the case of an emergency. If you work on the main quadrangles and still use a key to gain entry after hours, please look for information in weeks to come on when your building will switch to ID-card access. We have also installed approximately 30 cameras on security phone podiums around the quadrangles, again giving police real-time information in the case of an emergency.

As much as those initiatives help, it is just as important that each of us take personal responsibility for our own safety. Warm weather brings both increased criminal activity, and increased opportunities for crime, if we are not careful.

Chicago Police announced this week that a sexual assault took place late last Friday night at an apartment building on 53rd Street and Woodlawn Avenue. The department released few details, but is continuing to investigate the case. If you ever see suspicious activity or feel that you are in danger, please call 911 or call University Police at 773.702.8181.

Recently there have been a number of reports around Chicago and its suburbs of thefts and robberies on public transportation, including robberies at the 55th Street Red Line station. Many of these are focused on phones and mobile devices—whether you are walking, waiting or riding, it is always good advice to keep valuable equipment out of sight, and keep your attention on your surroundings. We encourage you to use public transportation in and around Hyde Park (links below). When traveling downtown, we encourage you to use the Metra station at 57th Street and Lake Park, which is served by free bus service and is part of the University of Chicago Police patrol area.

A few other basic precautions:

  • Lock doors and windows in your residence
  • Don’t leave valuable items unattended in vehicles
  • When walking around campus and the neighborhood, walk in groups and stay alert, especially at night; using your cell phone and wearing earpieces can make you more vulnerable
  • Use public transportation options: free bus service, SafeRide, and umbrella service

While we always strive to do better, I am pleased to report once again that violent crime in the area community continues to decrease to new lows—violent crime in Hyde Park-South Kenwood from Jan. 1 through March 30 is down 16 percent from the same period a year ago, while Woodlawn saw a 20 percent drop in violent crime during that period. For more information, see our Safety website.

Thanks for your continued efforts to keep campus safe, and please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about safety issues at ucpd-pio@uchicago.edu.