October 19, 2012

Safety and Security Update

To: The Campus Community
From: Marlon C. Lynch, Associate Vice President for Safety and Security
Date: October 19, 2012

With a new year underway, I want to address safety on and around campus, the ways in which we try to help you stay safe, and some of the steps you can take.

For those of you new to Hyde Park, it’s important to understand Chicago and our neighborhoods. Violent crime has decreased to historic lows in recent years. However, Chicago has experienced increased gang activity this year, most of it directed at other gang members. And, as in any major city, we all need to use good sense, looking out for ourselves and one another.

Around campus you will see both University of Chicago Police and uniformed security guards. We encourage you to say hello, seek help, or ask an officer to walk you to a nearby destination. Our officers may greet you, too; if they see you using a smartphone or acting in a way that might make you a target of crime, they will often point that out, in a friendly way.

You will see emergency phones, topped with a blue light, around campus and surrounding neighborhoods. Use those to summon immediate help, or report suspicious activity. Together with a network of security cameras and key-card access to most buildings, this technology helps us prevent crime.

Transportation is another key to safety. In September we launched the NightRide pilot program, an expanded shuttle bus system designed to provide timely transportation through the evening. Unlike SafeRide, which dispatched buses on a call-by-call basis, resulting in some long waits, NightRide will use those resources to make shuttles available every 20-30 minutes, at every University residence building, and other stops no more than two blocks from any campus building. Using the TransLoc system, you can track the buses in real time on mobile devices and on monitors in building lobbies. Members of the campus community may also continue to use our umbrella coverage, especially if you face a trip that makes you feel unsafe.

Finally, a few words on how we communicate about safety issues: For life-threatening emergencies, the University uses a system called cAlert, which warns every member of the campus community with automated calls to desk and cell phones, text messages, emails, and pager alerts. To ensure that these critical messages reach you, please log onto cAlert to check the accuracy of your information on file and enroll the devices most likely to reach you. We will test cAlert later this quarter.

For crimes that present a specific threat, but do not require immediate action, the University sends out an all-campus email known as a security alert. Learn about the guidelines established for security alerts by a presidential committee.

If you want to track crime and police activity throughout the University of Chicago Police patrol area, a full log is posted each day. You can also subscribe to receive the log through an RSS feed, and check crime statistics for our area.

Please take a few minutes to see more resources and important safety tips. I welcome your comments, and wish you a safe and productive year.