According to Director of UR Security Walter Mauldin, University-related robberies and assaults were unusual in their high number and location last year. Mauldin reported that UR Security responded to 2008’s new, unique challenges by enlarging its staff and installing new surveillance cameras in combination with several other crime-deterrence tactics.
The Students’ Association Senate asked Mauldin to discuss security measures on Monday night because of the growing student concern over the rash of thefts near the Residential Quad last semester.
Mauldin said that in 2008 there were eight reports of robberies and assaults, higher than the average of four per year since 2003. Additionally, more of these security threats occurred closer to the center of River Campus than in previous years, including the Residential Quad, the Fraternity Quad, Hoyt Hall and several parking lots. The bridge connecting the 19th Ward to the River Campus does not appear to be a conduit of crime.
Mauldin also added that considering the relatively small total population of incidents, this increase may be misleading.
Mauldin provided one potential cause for the unusual flurry of activity: the dissolving physical and psychological boundaries between the city of Rochester and University property. ‘The view that the campus is immune is a bubble these cases challenge that,” he said.
‘What distressed me was the fact that the bad thing about U of R becoming a more open and friendly campus made criminals more brazen and more likely to come on campus and look for crimes of opportunity,” Senator and sophomore Gao Xiang Chen said in response to Mauldin’s address.
Another trend Mauldin described is UR’s increased sensitivity to threats that occur away from University property.
Mauldin spoke of the challenges Security faces in dealing with the Rochester community beyond University borders. In addition to its presence at all University locations, Security also takes into consideration areas a block away from UR, due to the expansion of residences into the 19th Ward and UR Medical Center’s growing programs, including the new Wilmot Cancer Center.
‘These things are becoming more and more in the University’s domain of interest.” Mauldin said.
In the fall of last year, Security notified the student body of an assault on an Eastman School of Music graduate student while she was at her apartment on Grove Street. The entire student body received notification of this event, even though Mauldin said that this would not have been the case in the past.
Mauldin and his colleague, Assistant Director of Security and Traffic Division Alena Johnson, also discussed the numerous thefts throughout the semester, particularly concerning laptops and bicycles.
Johnson described her hopes to devise a user-friendly program for bicycle safety and opened the floor to suggestions.
Security employs a combination of tactics to deal with issues directly on and nearby University property. In the last two years, Security staffing increased by 23 patrol officers and one new investigator. Seventy percent of this increase was directly related to the expansion of University programs into the 19th Ward with Riverview Apartments and other areas.
Currently, there are two officers stationed at Rivervew Apartments, and more patrollers have been added to the UR Medical Center and Eastman School of Music locations. Another 25 percent were added in response to areas with a high volume of calls for service.
Mauldin explained Security’s deterrence methods for crime, which includes increasing street lighting and patrol of the area and installing blue light phones and surveillance cameras in remote locations. Security already added 23 cameras to Riverview last year.
‘I am most pleased that Security has added a significant number of officers in the past two years, as Walter explained,” SA senator and junior Eric Weissmann said. ‘The increase in officers is important to match the increasing number of students, to accommodate the addition of Riverview and to manage the increased frequency and closer proximity of thefts and acts of violence on UR students.”
Mauldin emphasized several of Security’s deterrence methods that play a preventative effect on crime, such as numerous blue lights, lighting of the grounds especially during finals and frequently patrolling officers.
Both on- and off-campus, Security aims for high visibility and familiarity with students and Rochester community members. Mauldin explained his department’s outreach efforts in the 19th Ward and emphasized the working relationship between UR and Rochester police.
There was consensus from both Mauldin and the Senators that Security is an important resource to the University, and despite the economic climate, Mauldin does not expect a decrease in Security’s budget.
‘If we can’t protect the University… and do it well, everything else we do is at risk,” Mauldin said.
Mauldin presented this information to the SA Senate in a formatted lecture and question-and-answer session that will replace the Town Hall meeting system.
Leber is a member of the class of 2011.