University Police may keep doubled nighttime patrols permanently if officials decide there is a continuing need for more police coverage during evening and early morning shifts. Administrators this week extended two of the three police shifts to 12 hours a day, six days a week to stem the recent rise in violent crime around campus. Under the new schedule, twice as many officers monitor the University community during the high-crime periods. Officers on these shifts are working 32 extra hours per week. If the doubled patrols continue, some officers will have to work these hours for months as the department tries to hire and train new officers. Because training in the police academy takes about 20 weeks, officials are already recruiting more trainees for the police department to prepare for future needs. Newly appointed Police Commissioner John Kuprevich, who will begin daily work in the department December 1, said he does not anticipate any negative effects on University Police's morale despite the demanding hours. "The officers are a very dedicated group of people," he said. "They want to make the area safe for everyone." Senior Vice President Marna Whittington said yesterday that the doubling of nighttime patrols is a "precautionary measure," adding that she is not sure how long the added force will be in place. She said if crime recedes for an extended period of time, the department would consider phasing out the doubled nighttime patrols, but added that security is the administration's utmost concern. "If we need to have it as a permanent measure it will be a permanent measure," she said. Whittington declined to say how much the extended patrols will cost the University, saying the administration is "not looking at it from a financial perspective." Extending patrol times is not the only measure the University plans to take to stem the recent rise in violent crime on and around campus. Whittington said at least three more officers will soon join the 75-member University police force. The size of the force has jumped from 44 to 75 over the past year, and the department has shifted beats and expanded the scope of its coverage. Whittington also said the administration may increase the security budget for next year. In January, Whittington announced a $1 million hike in the security budget in attempts to improve campus security. "Security is absolutely our top priority now," Whittington said yesterday. "From the president on down, the administration is worried about the issue . . . There's clearly an increase in crimes against persons." "The first thing we have to do is think of what we need to do from a programmatic standpoint and then we can calculate the costs," she said. "The president is prepared to commit another significant increase to security if that is what we need to do." She added that the department's officers "have very willingly agreed to work extra hours." Kuprevich said yesterday that he anticipates the additional officers will deter attacks within the department's jurisdiction. "We wanted the flexibility of having more people to have more of a preventative force," he said. "We're going to do everything we can to maintain a sense of safety." Kuprevich added that the department is using "saturation," maximizing resources at key times and in key places, but added that there needs to be more community-wide approaches to combat crime. "The police have a definite role and responsiblity to address issues that directly concern safety, but we as a community also have a responsibility to build a partnership and fight crime," he said.Comments powered by Disqus
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