This past Thursday Chief John Dillan, who was accompanied by Officer Ray and Bob Watrous, the Dean of Students, addressed students’ concerns in a safety forum hosted by the Student Government Board. With crime recently on the rise, staff, students and parents are concerned with both on and off-campus safety.
Dillan hoped to settle some fears by announcing that security officers have been patrolling the hallways of university dorms to ensure students safety. When a member of the audience expressed her concern about patrolling officers “invading students privacy,” Dillan assured her that dorm hallways are public place and that officers will not be armed, only “observing and reporting, like a [community assistant].”
Dillan explained that the security officers are put through a six week long training process in which they are taught “what to expect” working on a college campus and how to deal with college students. There may also be an increase in bag-checks in the future for security purposes.
Progress is also being made off-campus. Lights were just installed in the parking lot behind the Administration building and cameras will also be installed soon. Currently there is $500,000 worth of lighting on Main St. along with 12 cameras downtown. Dillan made it clear that cameras are only used in the case of an accident or a subject of interest–they are not being monitored 24/7 because that costs more money and these cameras are the “best use of money.”
Rape Aggression Defense training (RAD) classes are offered for students on campus for free, twice a semester. RAD classes are self-defense classes consisting of a three-hour lecture with safety tips, 6 hours of technique and lastly, one optional 3-hour class in which students can “beat the crap” out of their instructors. They provide individual experiences for males and females.
Dillan told students about the Berks County Crime Alert, which is a 1-800 number that can be called to anonymously report a crime. If an arrest is made from your anonymous tip, you will get paid. Dillan said that someone from Kutztown made $1000 this way and that a money incentive is given because otherwise there seems to be a reluctance to get involved.
The shuttle’s five-year contract is up for renewal. Many students are unhappy with the quality of the shuttles, complaining about promptness, reliability and sitting room. Dillan said that if students want a better quality shuttle bus, they will have to expect to pay more money.
He said he is “amazed to see how much [the] shuttle has taken off, it’s standing-room only now,” which must be a drastic change from the empty, underused shuttle busses of three years ago that he spoke about. A decision has yet to be made about the future of the shuttles.
Dillan also explained why perpetrators names are not included in KU Alerts. He said, “The only time we add suspect information is when we’re trying to identify them” and that the police “can’t deny them due process. Just because we caught them doesn’t mean that they aren’t guilty in a court of law.” Dillan said they don’t give the victim’s name(s) in the alerts either, because “everyone on the DMZ would know who they are–we try not to victimize them.”
“I don’t like the alerts,” Dillan said, “It causes instant panic.”
He feels frustrated that the law requires him to put safety tips at the end of each alert, because it sends out a message that it is the victims’ faults that they did not do enough to keep themselves safe, instead of blaming the perpetrator.
“People think that we’re blaming the victim because of the safety tips. No, we’re just complying with federal law.” He said the university could be fined or lose financial aid if they don’t follow specific guidelines of what and what not to include in the alerts.
By Aubrea Longacre