By Holly Wells
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
The University of Arizona Police Department is launching a new Campus Watch program in hopes of increasing communication on campus and reducing crime.
The program is based loosely on Neighborhood Watch and will provide presentations on safety and security to the campus community, recommend changes to buildings to make them safer, release campus alerts to all departments and provide statistics on crime trends.
Officer Chris Scheopner, a crime prevention specialist, said the program was not started as a reaction to anything specific, but came about through a grant UAPD received that was geared towards establishing a program like Campus Watch.
Sgt. Eugene Mejia, UAPD spokesman, said the department has wanted to have something like Campus Watch for a long time and said the grant made it easier to establish.
"We're trying to increase the flow of communication and expect to see a reduction in crime," Mejia said.
Scheopner described the program as a formal network of communication geared toward the academic and business portion of campus.
He said the program deals mostly with employees' concerns, because students are the focus of other programs.
To reach out to student safety, UAPD created the campus liaison program, which assigns an officer to each residence hall and concentrates on a specific issue each month.
Colleen Chee, an undeclared freshman and resident of Graham-Greenlee Residence Hall, said she wasn't aware of the campus liaison program, but said she thinks Campus Watch is a good idea.
"I went to a program at orientation about crime prevention tips and I learned a lot from that," she said.
Scheopner said UAPD wants to be able to easily inform campus departments of crime trends and possible suspects on campus. He said the main goal of the program is to encourage departments to communicate with each other.
Scheopner said crime trends include theft and violence in the workplace. He said campus watch will take measures to prevent such crime by providing presentations on safety in the workplace and how to prevent theft.
"We want them to get involved and report suspicious activity. By getting to know each other they can better understand the different crime trends certain departments are experiencing," he said.
Mejia said it is important for people on campus to report suspicious activity so police have a chance to arrive before a crime is committed.
"Campus employees have told us that there has been a long void in properly addressing safety concerns and we're filling that void," Mejia said.
Stephen Borota, optical sciences and engineering senior, said he received an e-mail about the Campus Watch program.
"It sounds like a good idea. Police are the ones who see the crime, and if everyone knew about it, it'd be easier to prevent," he said.
Another part of the program includes police looking at buildings on campus and seeing what could be done to make the buildings safer. Police will then advise the department of what they find.
"We will see if there is anything they can change to help with the safety and security of campus employees," he said.
Although the program was not started as a response to the recent string of sexual assaults and attempted sexual assaults, Scheopner said the program is coming at a good time and will try to prevent assaults.
Mejia said the Campus Watch will give police immediate access to every building on campus and said police will be able to alert more people about assaults.
"We're trying to point out to the community that many of the victims are female students," Mejia said. "We want students to practice prevention techniques."
UAPD and TPD have renewed their off-campus warning about several burglaries and assaults in the area north of campus and the University House apartments, 2525 E. Anklam Road.
The warning was originally issued before the Nov. 11 arrest of Israel Andrew Rivera in connection with four sexual assaults and an aggravated assault in October and November in neighborhoods north of campus.
The victims in those cases were three women and a man, all in their 20s, along with a teenage girl.
Since Rivera's arrest there have been two attempted sexual assaults at University House and a case of sexual abuse in the area of East Adams Street and North Tyndall Avenue.
The warning includes safety tips such as keeping doors and windows locked, never traveling alone, using SafeRide and immediately reporting suspicious activity to UAPD.
Campus employees have told us that there has long been a void in properly addressing safety concerns. – Sgt. Eugene Mejia