Students Together Against Acquaintance Rape this week became the first student organization this fall to respond publicly to a wave of violent crime around campus, calling for the University to make major changes in security policies. STAAR, which has expanded its focus beyond acquaintance rape to general crime, voted Wednesday to ask the University to increase police foot patrols and to introduce a police walking escort program. STAAR coordinator Anne Siegle said the group would like University Police officers to walk assigned routes on campus at regular times so that students can walk with them. The College senior said the system would allow officers to continue patrolling while doubling as escorts. But the proposal may not be feasible because it might allow criminals to know where police officers are at specific times. Although foot patrolmen are assigned certain sections of the campus to patrol, they cannot cover all sections of their beat at once and try to keep their routes unpredictable. Microbiology Professor Helen Davies, a member and former chairperson of the University Council's Safety and Security Committee, will present the proposals to the committee today on behalf of the STAAR. The microbiology professor acknowledged that the proposals are flawed, adding that the committee would have to amend them before accepting them. "It's a little more complex than just being able to say we'll give people a schedule," she said. "You have to move it around. You stagger it so you don't have the same predictable passage. This is one of the things that needs to be worked out." University Police spokesperson Sylvia Canada declined to comment on the proposals, referring questions to Director John Logan. Logan could not be reached for comment. Canada, Logan and Police Captain John Richardson are all members of the committee. If the Safety and Security Committee adopts a version of the proposals, it may present it to the full Council November 14. Davies said students often provide the best suggestions since they know what services they need. "STAAR has come up with some excellent suggestions," Davies said. "We know they have put a lot of thought into what they are proposing. The whole committee will receive them with great enthusiasm." In the past, many improvements in University security have followed student outcry. Students routinely complain of insufficient security after highly-publicized incidents in which students are injured. STAAR's proposals come after a weekend in which several students were victims of armed robberies and one student was seriously hurt in a robbery. The student, College junior Roberta Koeppel, is listed in fair condition in Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Koeppel was originally listed in critical condition after being run over by a van Friday night during a robbery. The proposals also come after an increase this semester in armed robberies in the blocks just west of campus. Siegel said the latest crimes indicate that immediate changes are necessary. She said the new police escort system would be in addition to the existing van system and the walking escort program run by students. Siegel said the STAAR proposals could be implemented immediately. Buying more vans, she said, would take time and would require large-scale spending. Using police officers would only involve shifting officers' duties, she said. These proposals come as University Police and the administration are already taking steps toward easing the crime problem. Over the past year, the department has added 31 new officers, increasing its staff to 75. Earlier this week the department shifted beats to create a new nighttime foot patrol for the 4000 block of Locust, Pine and Spruce streets to cut down on armed robberies in that area. The department also extended another beat to cover the 4000 block of Walnut Street. Davies said the STAAR proposal for new foot patrols would not likely require the department to hire new officers. Davies added that STAAR's suggestions are a good example of "community policing," a concept introduced at the University last year that has become a buzzword among security officials. Siegel said students and the University must also take steps to decrease crime in West Philadelphia as a whole. She said crime is a community problem, not just a University problem, and local residents and the school must work together. "That's obviously going to take a lot longer and be a moreComments powered by Disqus
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