Oct. 14, 1993
Vol. 13, No. 4

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    Special report on security, crime prevention

    The University's standing committee on Crime Prevention and Security on Campus and in the Neighborhood has issued an interim assessment that reports recommendations for future action and general policies on campus crime prevention. The complete report is in the University Record, inserted in this issue.

    The committee was appointed in January by former President Gray and was recently reappointed by President Sonnenschein to serve as a forum for the discussion of concerns expressed by students, faculty and staff, and for the review and evaluation of services offered by the University and other agencies to protect the University community.

    Chaired by Robert Sampson, Professor in Sociology and the College, the committee reached consensus on recommendations regarding a range of issues, including:

    _ Crime notification programs

    _ Transportation systems, including the evening and campus buses, van service and escort or umbrella service

    _ Security orientation for students, faculty and staff

    _ Levels of policing and the performance of police and other law-enforcement agencies in crime prevention and security

    _ Assistance programs for victims and witnesses of crimes

    _ Lighting on campus and in the neighborhood

    _ Locations of emergency telephones and other similar communication systems

    "We do not consider this report a final product, but rather an interim assessment that should be viewed in the context of an ongoing evaluation," said Sampson. "Indeed, one of our concluding recommendations is that a committee such as this one be continued so as to provide continuity over time in assessing the dynamic nature of crime and appropriate strategies for University response." CRIME NOTIFICATION PROGRAMS

    The vast majority of the committee's time -- and hence of its report -- focused on crime notification programs and suggestions for change and improvement.

    The report recommends that the University continue the "alert" notification system for gathering and disseminating information on crime to the campus community, a system that was outlined in the May 1992 report by the Task Force on Crime Notification chaired by Jeanne Altmann, Professor in Ecology & Evolution. The report expresses consistent support for the idea of an "alert" notification for particularly salient crimes that provoke the most concern (for example, rape, serious assault, armed robbery on campus).

    The report also recommends that the University state clearly and make public the criteria for what crimes and circumstances are used to constitute an "alert" status. It recommends maintaining University discretion and leeway in deciding alerts within the stated guidelines, while re-emphasizing the recommendation by Altmann's committee that only "serious" crimes that deviate from normal patterns should merit an alert.

    The report's third recommendation on crime notification is that the biweekly listing of crime incidents in the Chronicle be replaced by a comprehensive quarterly report. Because crime incident maps appear in the Maroon and the Hyde Park Herald on a weekly basis, the committee felt that a more comprehensive report would be able to focus on overall crime patterns by time and place, rather than discrete incidents. To this end, the committee suggests a reporting system that presents this information in the form of graphs and tables that show the number of crimes by zone and time of day throughout the Hyde Park-South Kenwood neighborhood.

    This visual display would be accompanied by a narrative section featuring analytical discussions of data sources, rules for inclusion, patrol patterns of University police, crime-prevention tips, unusual patterns, trends over time and other subjects relevant to understanding the crime information.

    The report states that a forthright and accurate portrayal of aggregate crime patterns in time and space, accompanied by a sophisticated yet accessible analysis that explains the patterns, puts them in context, and links them to ongoing prevention activities, would create a crime-reporting system that will serve the larger purpose of improving life in the local community. The first quarterly report, covering July 1 through Sept. 30, is scheduled to appear in the Nov. 11 Chronicle. TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS

    The report states that the committee supports the current level of service, which includes several recent changes. The evening bus service has been expanded from four to six routes; van service offers longer hours and two radio-equipped vans instead of one; and umbrella service has been de-emphasized, with it now serving as an alternative when or where the evening bus and van services are not available (from 4 a.m. until dawn), or in cases of compelling need when walking late at night.

    The report offers two suggestions for possible improvement: sending a bulletin to the undergraduate houses clarifying the new arrangements for transportation, and increasing van service during holidays or breaks, especially around the Medical Center. SECURITY ORIENTATIONS

    The report states that security orientations are easy to provide and are widely available. It notes that the University distributes more than 20,000 copies of Common Sense, an informational brochure on crime prevention and security orientation. (Copies were inserted in the orientation issues of the Chronicle and the Maroon.) The committee feels that the series of security sessions presented throughout the residence halls, departments and professional schools should be continued and should be advertised frequently.

    The report suggests one area for possible improvement: having each student (and possibly faculty and staff) be issued a small wallet-size card that lists key telephone numbers, names and locations with respect to security (for example, police, the student hotline, Deans-on-Call, van service, victim counseling). These cards could be issued at the beginning of each academic year. POLICING AND PERFORMANCE

    The committee consensus in the report was that the University Police -- currently more than 100 officers providing 24-hour coverage by zones throughout the Hyde Park-South Kenwood neighborhood -- perform an excellent job under constraining circumstances. While there is a wish to see more officers on foot patrol, especially at night, financial resources do not appear to be available to meet this demand.

    However, the general feeling of the committee, consistent with considerable research, is that the number of officers is less important than what they do on the street. The committee report encourages the department to continue its aggressive policy and proactive stance on community crime prevention. ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

    The report shows evidence of an increase in assistance programs provided by the University. In particular, the Mitchell Emergency Room has instituted a program to train female volunteers to serve as counselors for victims of sexual assault. Currently, more than 20 volunteers cover the Mitchell Emergency Room, and the goal is to have 60 volunteers -- a volunteer and a backup for each day of the month. LIGHTING AND TELEPHONES

    In both these areas the committee did not see any pressing need for change. There was a general sense by the committee that emergency phones were well placed throughout the community, especially in heavily traveled areas. The committee also noted recent lighting improvements on the quadrangles and on many other streets with University buildings and properties. OTHER CONCERNS

    Although the committee does not have any specific suggestions at this time, it recommends that special attention be paid in the future to the unique needs of the Medical Center and its surrounding area. The Hospitals operate 24 hours a day and receive thousands of visitors. In addition to Robert Sampson, the members of the committee are Doron Kahana, a College student and former president of the College Student Assembly; Anne Mooney, a graduate student and former president of Student Government; Donna Morrone, a registered nurse with the University Health Service; Rose Muldrow, administrative assistant for the Comptroller's Office; Colin Novick, a College student and former president of the Maclean House Council; Marsha Rosner, Associate Professor in the Ben May Institute; Susanne Rudolph, the William Benton Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science and the College; and Tyson Toles, a student in the Law School and the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies.

    The following persons served in an ex officio capacity on the committee: Rudolph Nimocks, Director of University Police; Robert Mason, Executive Director of the South East Chicago Commission; Sandra Bateman, Assistant Director of University Human Resources Management; Richard Zansitis, Associate General Counsel; Edward Turkington, Dean of Student Services; Stephen Gabel, Director of Academic Publications and Assistant to the Provost, who is in charge of the crime notification program; and JoAnn Shaw, Associate Director of the Hospitals and Director of the Hospitals' Department of Human Resources, who was represented by Noreen McGowan, Coordinator of Employee Involvement and Communications for the Hospitals.