Campus Safety’s Selectivity of Crime Alerts isn’t Protecting Students

Mark Rosales II | The PHOENIX

Compared to last semester, it seems like students haven’t heard from Campus Safety in a while.

The last crime alert from Campus Safety was on Feb. 5 involving a hate speech incident; that was also the first crime alert sent this semester.

Since the beginning of the semester, a battery, an attempted strong armed robbery and a simple assault were reported to Campus Safety, and all happened within a few blocks of campus, according to Campus Safety police logs.

Yet, Campus Safety didn’t send students alerts about these crimes.

Campus Safety doesn’t send alerts for every crime reported to its office, which some view as a lack of transparency.

Campus Safety Sgt. Tim Cunningham spoke at a safety forum last semester addressing these concerns and said Campus Safety is “very selective” about which crime alerts to send out to students and how many to send out, citing a desire not to “desensitize students to the harsh reality of each crime.”

Can students attending a college in the city of Chicago be desensitized to crime, especially occurring on and around their campus?

Last year, the city of Chicago suffered 762 homicides, according to the Chicago Police Department, and this year’s stats aren’t looking any better. So far in 2017, 80 people have been murdered in Chicago as of Feb. 19, according to the Chicago Police Department (CPD) crime statistics, compared to 85 at this time last year. There have been 355 shooting incidents in 2017 as of Feb. 19, compared to 338 last year at this time, according to the CPD crime statistics.

While students may be desensitized by crime by these big numbers, they might not even be aware the crime is happening near them. In a Loyola student’s experience, every notification received regarding a crime committed against a student or near campus is a reminder that crime happens in our community too, and we need to be aware of it.

Campus Safety is required to follow Clery Act guidelines for sharing information about crime on and near campus, outlined by specific parameters.

For those students who live off campus and do not always fall within these parameters, crimes happening often remain unknown.

Last semester, Campus Safety told The Phoenix it doesn’t want to alert students about all crimes around campus because they might start ignoring those emails.

“Too many crime alerts could lead to students starting to ignore the messages,” Cunningham said in an email to The Phoenix last semester. “This is why we do not send out emails for every single incident on campus and is why we follow the [Clery Act] guidelines.”

But students want to be informed about crimes on and near by campus so they can take their own precautions to stay safe.

Student Government of Loyola Chicago is hosting a safety forum for students on Feb. 23. Campus Safety officers, staff from the Wellness Center and representatives from the Office of the Dean of Students will be in attendance to answer any questions students have about safety.

These safety forums are held every semester, and at last year’s forum Cunningham focused on encouraging students to report everything they see.

This relationship should be a two-way street: If Campus Safety wants students to report crime, it should in turn alert the Loyola community of what is happening around us.

Another option for students is to take it upon themselves to stay safe by attending community Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meetings. CPD created CAPS to foster a better relationship between the community and police officers, emphasizing community policing.

CAPS meetings are hosted monthly, and the next CAPS meeting for Rogers Park is March 16.

We should be working together to keep our campus safe. Students aren’t going to make the effort to report crime if Campus Safety is going to be selective about which crimes it sends alerts for, or potentially not report it to students altogether.

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