The Vanguard

USA Releases Annual Security and Fire Safety Report

Natasha Spradlin, Reporter

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The University of South Alabama’s Police Department released its Annual Security and Fire Safety Report on Sept. 29. The ASR statistics include the total number of incidents reported to USA’s police department and/or campus authorities within the past three years.

The report is required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act and the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act to be published no later than Oct. 1 every year.

According to the Clery Act, the purpose of the report is to provide information about security on and around our campus. This includes crime and fire statistics, information about safety and policy, resource phones numbers and a brief overview of the services the university provides to faculty and students.

USA’s Police Department compiles information from around 500 campus security authorities, people who have direct supervision or act as advisors over specific groups within the campus community, and report the statistics in the ASR. If students approach campus security authorities about any possible crime throughout the year, USA’s Police Department has to report the information regardless of whether charges were pressed.  According to Chief Zeke Aull, campus police don’t know a lot about the statistics they receive for this reason.

“We never get the chance to talk to the person or investigate the crime,” Aull said. “We have to take it at face value.”

The inconclusive results in the ASR lead to questions as to whether our campus is as safe or as dangerous as the report may sometimes suggest. In 2012, Business Insider conducted a survey which ranked USA as the eighth most dangerous campus in the United States based on data from the FBI’s crime report and the Clery Act report. The most recent ASR suggests crimes such as robbery, non-motor burglary, aggravated assault, stalking and domestic violence has decreased on campus. However, rape, fondling, drug law violations, motor vehicle theft and arson seem to be on the rise.

In order to ensure safety throughout the campus community, USA has about 40 officer positions and more than 700 cameras placed on school property. Aull said plans are also underway to install LPR cameras that will recognize license plates entering or leaving the university. In addition to these measures, he is confident the USA Police Department’s “if you see something, do something” campaign and their partnership with organizations such as SGA to “bring in the bystander” will continue to improve the report’s accuracy in the future.

“We don’t function fully without the assistance of our campus community,” Aull said. “It’s not solely up to the police to keep our campus safe. It’s impossible for us to be everywhere all of the time. We depend on the community to help us prevent crime. We need the community to make those calls, to send texts, whether anonymous or not. We want the information. The goal is to keep us as safe as possible.”

Freshman Emily Wilkinson hopes to see campus police do more, too.

“I never see them out,” Wilkinson said. “I’d like to see them patrol more. I pass the campus police department and their cars are always lined up in the front.”

Wilkinson feels students should strive to be responsible adults and use their best judgement on and off campus as well. She’d like to see fellow students hold themselves accountable.

SGA believes a multilateral approach between students, faculty, staff and campus police will promote a safer campus atmosphere. They look forward to their implementation of the LiveSafe App aid in this effort. The app provides users with the ability to submit quick tips through text, have live chats with safety officials, enable emergency numbers which initiate location tracking services when called, and gives users access to a peer-to-peer tool called SafeWalk that allows their friends to ensure they arrive home safely.

Lauren Sullivan, SGA’s Campus Safety and Improvement Chair, urged students to get involved.

“It’s best if we take precautionary measures instead of waiting for something to happen here,” Sullivan said. “If students have any concerns, please let SGA know. That’s what we are here for. We are the voice of the campus. A lot of times when I have these ideas it’s because people tell me. I don’t come up with them on my own. Safety is a universal concern.”

Students who wish to address safety concerns or have questions can contact the University of South Alabama Police Department at (251) 460 – 6312 / [email protected] or Lauren Sullivan at [email protected]

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USA Releases Annual Security and Fire Safety Report