Department efforts help combat crime

Partnerships between campus departments and programs come together to provide a safe environment for students and to break down the already decreasing crime on campus.

The annual security and fire report put out by Public Safety shows that crime on campus has gone down in recent years. Though crime statistics sometimes follow enrollment trends, numerous departments and programs have narrowed their efforts to deter campus crime.

Starting in August 2013, SCSU teamed with the St. Cloud Police Department to bring the Campus Area Police Services (CAPS) initiative to campus. Continuing on through its first academic year, Assist Director of Public Safety, Jennifer Furan Super, said that the CAPS program has been successful so far.

“As a criminal, you don’t want to live in the CAPS area, because these three officers are focusing in on that, and they’re having a lot of successes on that,” she said.

From 2009 to 2013, reported burglaries on campus dropped 60 percent, according to the annual security and fire reports put out by Public Safety.

Only covering the SCSU campus and surrounding neighborhoods, she said that the CAPS team has been able to dedicate more attention to the area and push crime farther away from campus.

“They’re able to do everything at their office in Public Safety that they would at the police department.”
Not only does it bring the officers closer to campus, she said that it also “… provides kind of a protective boundary to the university.”

In addition to CAPS, she said that SCSU intends for a comprehensive physical security study to come out in a couple of months. The study is aimed at increasing security, along with convenience, which includes more controlled card access into buildings, wireless alarm systems and increased lighting on campus. She said that it will have a direct impact on burglaries within the area.

Though a comprehensive study will help to increase security on campus, Furan Super said that educating students, faculty and staff about reporting crimes and building a solid foundation for incoming freshman has been crucial to campus safety.

Whether it’s reducing alcohol use on campus or stopping burglars, one of the ways Public Safety carries this education out has been by partnering up with other departments and programs on campus.

“I’d say that the Public Safety Department is probably one of the only departments on campus that reaches out and has a connection to just about every department on campus,” she said.

Since most of the alcohol-related offenses happen in the resident halls, it’s been important for Public Safety to team up with UChoose and Residential Life to put on these educational programs and events with an overall goal in mind to promote campus safety.

“It’s nice to have involvement with lots of different areas on campus, because we all have a benefit and bring something different to enhance the student experience,” said Jennifer Johnson, coordinator of Alcohol Prevention and Community Programming. “We try to partner with a lot of people on campus, because we feel that’s the best way to bring collaborative educational services to students.”

“Our overall goal is student safety,” she said. “We want students to feel safe, and we want them to enjoy their experience here and feel like it’s a safe place for them, because it really is.”

By taking an environmental management approach, UChoose focuses on producing educational events that put students in various scenarios that could reflect what they might run into down the road.

‘House Party 101’ is an event that UChoose puts on to show and educate students what the implications are of a social host ordinance and being placed in a “target-rich environment,” she said.

“If [students] are leaving a house or leaving somewhere and they appear intoxicated, it makes it easier for a criminal to possibly prey on them or on their place of residence,” Johnson continued. “Or if they are hosting a party and they don’t know someone there, somebody could easily come in there and take something, or open a window and come back the next day when someone is gone and pop the window open.”

“We really try to do a lot of work with the police department to educate students about being safe and just looking out for yourself and your property and other people and places around you, because safety is a big issue,” she said.

While putting alcohol education events on campus, Johnson said that, at UChoose, they’re finding that “many incoming freshman have no or little alcohol education before coming to college,” and by being able to provide that education helps students to make informed decisions.

“That’s a priority for students and it’s a priority for us,” she said.

With alcohol-related offenses falling nearly 40 percent from 2012 to 2013 alone, the SCSU College Student Health Survey shows that over the last four years students that listed they currently use alcohol dropped 5.1 percent.

Along with the educational events on campus, Furan Super said that “we will hopefully see on decreases in overall statistics now that Case, Hill, and Shoemaker hall have different ways that the students access the building.”

Over the past four years, Director of Residential Life, Dan Pedersen, said that as they’ve been renovating, advancements in security, including controlled card access entrances and lobby areas and video surveillance systems, have been introduced for student safety.

“We have invested significant resources in to upgrading our aforementioned facilities and systems to be as current as possible, and provide the most advanced safety features available,” he said.

“To go along with the add-ons, Residential Life increased staffing for their Night Security Program and at the reception desks, he said.

“During our last resident satisfaction survey, student satisfaction with safety and security in their residence hall or apartment was the highest rate area of student satisfaction,” Pedersen continued. “In fact, the rating provided by our residents was higher than the previous assessment cycle.”

For students living in the residence halls, the upgraded security measures might be nice when it comes stopping internal crimes like theft.

First-year mass communications major, Rose Cianflone, said that she recently had her laundry stolen.
After finding her laundry missing, Cianflone headed off to the front desk to see what could be done about the situation. She was told that, since there aren’t cameras in the laundry room, it would be difficult to track down her missing belongings.

“I think, in the residential halls, it’s kind of ridiculous that is a problem,” she said. She said that in places like the laundry room, there should be surveillance cameras.

However, with Residential Life making advancements security, she believes it will help prevent crime from happening in the residence halls.

Having close ties with Public Safety and the St. Cloud Police Department, Residential Life does their part to educate help students that feel they have been the victim of a crime, Pedersen said. Part of that is being mindful of one’s surroundings.

“Succeeding in and out of the classroom can be difficult when a student is constantly worried about personal safety,” he continued. “I hope we can continue to work with our students to help them understand how important it is to have a safe and secure environment.”

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