Crime

Campus Safety Takes Hours to Send Crime Alerts, Students Say it’s ‘Terrible’

Alanna Demetrius | The PhoenixStudents voice concerns about the lag time between crime near campus and emails alerting students.

Loyola’s police force has sent seven emails this academic year notifying the Loyola community about crimes which have occurred on or near campus. While the purpose of crime alert emails from Loyola’s police force is to warn students and employees about a possible threat near campus, The Phoenix found the average time between when a crime occurred and when emails are sent is more than five hours.

Of the seven, four alerts were sent more than three hours after the reported incident, the data shows.

Campus Safety took just under 21 hours to send a crime alert following a Nov. 26 burglary in Mertz Hall, The Phoenix found.

The community wasn’t notified for more than two hours after a Loyola student was robbed outside Dumbach Hall March 19. The student was threatened and was forced to give up his phone, The Phoenix reported.

The only alert sent in less than two hours was after a robbery which occurred on the 1200 block of West North Shore Avenue Nov. 6, where the offender jumped out of a vehicle, struck the victim and then demanded their belongings, The Phoenix reported. Neither party was believed to be affiliated with Loyola.

Under a federal law called the Clery Act, Campus Safety is required to publish all reported crimes on or near campus online in a publicly accessible log within two days of the incident, unless it impedes an ongoing investigation. Loyola is subject to the Clery Act because it receives federal funding.

When a crime covered by the Clery Act occurs on or around campus, campus police officials are required to assess if there’s an “imminent threat” to the community in order to determine if a warning needs to be sent to staff and students, according to the law.

Evangeline Politis, a university spokesperson, said in an emailed statement to The Phoenix the police force meets the standards of the Clery Act. Politis sent the statement on behalf of Campus Safety chief Tom Murray.

“We strive to disseminate this information in both a factual and timely manner, meeting the standards stated in the Jeanne Clery Act,” Politis said. “The details of these incidents can be very fluid. Our goal is to share the most accurate messaging, which will in turn keep our community safe.”

However, some Loyola students said they worry it can be dangerous if there’s a threat but an email doesn’t go out for several hours.

An alert wasn’t sent for three hours following a battery in the Damen Student Center Feb. 26. An unknown male grabbed a female Loyola student’s buttocks and then fled on a CTA bus, The Phoenix reported.

Bekah Cates, a first-year human services major, said other students could be harmed if they aren’t aware of a possible threat.

“If something bad happens and they take that long to respond, then the chances of it happening to another student could be completely higher if they don’t take control of it soon enough,” Cates said.

After an attempted strong armed robbery February 22 at Loyola’s Water Tower Campus, Campus Safety didn’t send an alert for more than two hours. Two men jumped out of a vehicle and tried to take a male student’s cell phone, knocking it out of his hand, The Phoenix reported.

Isabella Martinez, a first-year philosophy and criminal justice double major, said Campus Safety officers have a critical job on campus.

“If somebody is in danger and it takes that long for [Campus Safety] to react to it, that’s terrible, because I feel like that’s one of the most important jobs on campus is Campus Safety, taking care of the students and making sure they’re safe,” Martinez said.

Campus Safety took more than three hours to send an alert to the community following an attempted armed robbery Sept. 26 at the 1200 block of West Albion Avenue, where two men approached a student with a gun and demanded his belongings, The Phoenix reported.

That same week, the police force didn’t send a notification for more than four hours after an attempted armed robbery Sept. 29 in which a man followed a student and displayed a pointed object outside of a residence hall, The Phoenix reported.

Camryn Delacruz, a junior forensic science major, said she’s noticed the delays in the delivery of crime alerts. She said the notifications aren’t always descriptive enough when referring to the suspect.

“When I read the reports, they do report really late, and I notice they don’t really give too much of a description [of the suspect],” the 20-year-old said. “I think maybe a more accurate report would be helpful, but timing is important too, within less than three hours.”

Campus Safety declined requests for comment about the descriptions.

Cates echoed how the alerts don’t always provide a specific description of the perpetrator of the crime.

A 2017 Phoenix investigation showed only a fraction of crimes CPD responded to appeared within Campus Safety records. The investigation also found inaccurate and missing information in multiple cases.

Campus Safety has been criticized in the past for not sending crime alerts following incidents which occur near campus. The first alert of this academic year was sent out Sept. 26, even though there had been six instances of violent crime on or near campus at the beginning of the fall semester prior to the first emailed alert, The Phoenix reported.

In September, a student was beaten and robbed near the intersection of West Devon Avenue and North Lakewood Avenue, 0.3 miles from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus. Campus Safety didn’t send a crime alert, The Phoenix reported.

CORRECTION: The original infographic, while correctly reflecting an alert on 2/22 was sent 2.45 hrs after the incident, incorrectly stated the alert was sent at 10:48 a.m. The correct time is 10:48 p.m. We regret the error.

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Assistant News Editor

Mary Chappell is an assistant news editor at The Phoenix who studies journalism and political science at Loyola. Mary grew up in Denver, Colorado, and loves to explore Chicago, drink coffee, attend concerts and watch baseball.

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