A month after three armed robberies on campus in December, the Division of Public Safety is continuing its new measures to ensure student safety.
Among the new measures are increased overtime shifts, the use of undercover officers and added Allied Barton security guards around campus.
No arrests have been made in any of the three cases, which Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said occurred at earlier times than is usual.
Rush said that the early time in the day at which these robberies occurred is a “distinct difference in the crimes we have not seen in many years.”
“Fortunately, [the armed robberies] stopped, but we never have our guard down, so the increased overtime shifts are ongoing,” she said.
In addition to using more officers, DPS has also added to the number of Allied Barton security guards it uses at any given time. Rush said that their role is to “supplement [those] on the streets and in college houses [in] what we do.”
An effort has been made to strategically place officers to make campus safer, according to Rush. She said that these decisions are partially made at deployment meetings with representatives from DPS, Allied Barton and the Philadelphia Police Department, among other groups.
Some of the efforts DPS has made do not just involve people on the ground. The foremost of these efforts is the use of Closed Circuit Television cameras around campus.
The CCTV cameras allow police to “virtually patrol campus” all while inside the Penn Communication Center, according to Rush. Employees can monitor specific areas of campus and “bring police in when necessary.”
These extra efforts are in response to three instances of Penn students being robbed within three weeks last month.
On Dec. 1, a male student was robbed with what appeared to be a gun at 3:45 p.m. at 40th and Locust streets. There was another robbery at 8:09 p.m. on Dec. 13, when two students were robbed at gunpoint at 40th and Spruce streets. Finally, on Dec. 18, a male student was robbed at gunpoint at 3:20 p.m. at 38th & Walnut streets.
Typically, crimes of this nature occur between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m., according to Rush. To combat this, DPS has a nightly “Power Shift” through these hours, when it dispatches more officers than they do throughout the rest of the day.
Despite the initiatives, some students say they have not noticed any additional police presence this semester.
“Everything in terms of police on campus seems about the same as before exams,” Wharton freshman Jerry Zhang said.
College freshman Katrina Tomas, who said she was near the location of the Dec. 18 robbery when it happened, agreed.
“I haven’t really seen any change,” she said.
Despite the robberies, however, overall crime was down 7 percent in December compared to the same month in 2011.
Rush reiterated that the department is committed to doing whatever it takes to keep campus safe.
“Until proven otherwise, there are one or two criminals in town who like working in the day,” she said. “Until they’re caught, we’re going to be on our guard.”
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