Students respond to campus safety

Students respond to campus safety

By Brandon Buscher

On Saturday March 5, the University of Missouri Police Department arrested homeless man Zachery R. Jones on two counts of rape, and one count of forcible sodomy which reportedly occurred on campus. According to MUPD, these incidents occurred near the intersection of Hitt St. and University Ave. Police were able to apprehend the suspect after the alleged assaults occurred. Despite campus police’s quick response, it was unclear how students felt about their safety.

These reports were just a sample of the MU Alert notifications students have received in recent months, including shots fired near campus.

“When dealing with any campus police situation, one, they have to tell the students what’s going on, but also they have to preserve the integrity of the investigation,” said MU student Celia Dougherty, when asked about the quality of MUPD’s campus policing. “I think as long as you know, they try to be honest with what’s going on and if we need to avoid certain areas at certain times so that people don’t get hurt, I think that’s fine.”

Several students felt as though they were being adequately served by campus police, and there were little attitudes of fear in the minds of the student body. Some students had advice to give regarding campus safety.

“I think sticking together in groups when late at night, and being as safe as possible, you know if you feel unsafe just stay calm, try to find the nearest blue light and contact MUPD immediately,” MU student Josh Neighbors said.

Despite the proliferation of personal cell phones, MU still provides a system of these “blue light” emergency phones, which are used to contact MUPD in situations where you feel unsafe.

“Nowadays everybody has their own phone so they can be more or less a back-up,” Major Scott Richardson said. In the eyes of MUPD they serve as an alternative to emergency response.

So far this year, there have been 25 assaults and 4 sexual offenses reported by campus police on MU’s campus, according to the MUPD crime statistics database.

Major Scott Richardson commented on the size of MUPD’s staff, remarking that they have a limited number of officers. According to Major Richardson, MUPD employs just over 40 officers across three patrol shifts, the investigative team and office workers. Despite their small department, MUPD has recorded 74 combined arrests over 2015 and 2016. Yet for anyone still worried about safety, Richardson says there are ways for students to help maintain campus safety.

“We need eyes and ears… if somebody sees something that is going wrong or they think is wrong, to call our department,” Richardson said.

MUPD has reported 59 total arrests so far in the year of 2016 with two reported sexual assaults included. The best thing for tigers to do in times of danger or uncertainty, is to trust the efforts of MUPD, to remove yourself from the situation and immediately call them for help, as per Richardson’s advice. For more advice and information on how to stay safe on campus, you can visit www.mupolice.missouri.edu.

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