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'Campasign for Safety' must be serious attempt to curb crime

By Wildcat Editorial Staff

Tuesday September 11, 2001

When University of Arizona Police Chief Anthony Daykin called a press conference Thursday morning to announce that UAPD has begun an attempt to interact more freely with UA students, some people on campus rolled their eyes.

Was it just a public-relations stunt meant to better the name - and reputation - of campus cops throughout the university?

Let's hope not.

UAPD's new "Campaign for Safety" has been a long time coming.

As any installment of Police Beat will show, the UA campus isn't quite as safe as students and faculty might think. Every day, cars are broken into, merchandise is stolen from the bookstore, students are assaulted, and people are arrested for driving under the influence or drug possession.

According to the department's 2000 Annual Crime Report, UAPD arrested 849 people on charges stemming from murder to drug possession.

Though the numbers were an improvement from 1999 when police arrested 1,192 people for similar charges, the statistics are still too high.

In a way, the "Campaign for Safety" is an attempt by UA officials to help lower the numbers even more. By making itself more approachable and student-friendly, UAPD hopes it can cut down on crime by making itself an accessible facet of the community.

Under the new campaign, department officials will post UAPD officers as liaisons with residence halls, while Associated Students' officials continue to operate Safe Rides, a van service that allows students living on or near campus to get home without having to walk through campus alone.

But the new slogan that has been placed on UAPD patrol cars reads, "partners with the community." The statement seems to suggest that people have felt that UAPD often placed themselves above the community, and now they realize that the best way to stop crime on campus is to become a part of the community.

Notably, students should be familiar with some of UAPD's recommendations. The department has facts and advice for students walking through campus, some of which urge students to, among other things, utilize Safe Rides, walk in well-lit areas and walk the streets while facing traffic.

Often, communication between a police department - any police department - and the community is a one-sided relationship. UAPD has tried to make itself more accessible to a community that is at times distrustful of law enforcement.

How will UA students react? Some may see the campaign, with good reason, as a half-hearted attempt to generate good publicity for a department that students see as a limitation to most of the things they enjoy about college.

Talk is one thing. Action is another.

UAPD officials have decided that the time is right for engaging campus members in a discussion about what they want, what they expect and what they think of the UA's law enforcement authority. Though Daykin - the department's new chief - has made attempts to engage students in campus issues, UAPD officials need equal participation from students and faculty.

Whether those on campus will choose to take part in this campaign has yet to be seen.


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