University Police yesterday doubled nighttime patrols in an effort to stop a wave of violent crime in the University area. Officers on two of the department's three shifts yesterday started a schedule of 12-hour days, six days a week. Officers on those shifts will work four more hours per day and an additional day each week, providing twice the usual manpower for patrols in the evening and early morning hours. The increased coverage is a temporary measure. Police said they will resume the normal schedule when crime troubles subside. University Police officials worked throughout the day yesterday to institute the changes as they tried to rebound from the most violent night of crime this semester. A University Police officer was forced to shoot a would-be robber in the hand Monday night as four men attempted to rob him and his partner with what appeared to be a shotgun. This was the first time in at least 10 years that a University Police officer fired his gun at a suspect. And early yesterday morning, two University students were stabbed in the latest of a series of surprise stabbings in the area. Philadelphia Police arrested a man and charged him with those stabbings yesterday. The same man is suspected of three other stabbings in the last 10 days. These incidents are just the latest examples in what many believe to be a sharp rise in violent crime this semester. Police increased off-campus foot patrols earlier this semester to try to stop a rash of armed robberies in the area. Last week, several University departments agreed to increase security services after a student was seriously injured in an October 19 robbery at 41st and Locust streets. But University Police Director John Logan said these measures were not enough. "Despite these efforts, the crimes continue so we had to go to another plan -- especially after what happened last night," Logan said. "We're going on the offensive," said College Junior Jeffrey Jacobson, co-chairperson of the University Council Safety and Security Committee. "It's now getting so bad that they're mugging police officers so we're going on the offensive until people are less afraid." Jacobson said Logan and Police Captain John Richardson discussed the possibility of increasing officers' hours and limiting their days off at committee meetings over the past few weeks. He said Senior Vice President Marna Whittington approved the changes if police officials decided they were needed. Richardson said he was encouraged that there were no violent crimes around campus all weekend and he was starting to believe police had begun to control the problem. But he said the latest incidents destroyed that feeling. University Police spokesperson Sylvia Canada said yesterday that police often feel like the efforts they are making do not make much of a difference. She said the University's crime problem now mirrors the problems other areas face with drugs -- officers continue to arrest suspects but as soon as they clear one group of criminals away, another steps in to fill the void. "Once a corner is cleared [of criminals] for an hour, they're replaced with others," she said. "We're aware of that and we're going to be standing on the corner." She said by providing twice the number of officers at night, police visibility will increase and more officers will be available to break up other crimes. Officers working evening shifts will be held over into the night and those working nighttime shifts will come in early. Police would not release the exact hours of increased patrols. The increased shifts will create the most intense police coverage in the department's history. Over the past year, the department has increased from 44 officers to 75. Now, the department is doubling this increased coverage. In addition, Philadelphia Police have agreed to send an officer for an hour each day to patrol with University officers. The new program with city police is designed to increase cooperation and communication between the two departments, and to give city police an idea of the day-to-day problems officers here face. Biochemistry Professor Adelaide Delluva, the other co-chairperson of the Safety and Security Committee, said she believes the crime problem is growing worse despite the best efforts of University officials. "It's like the finger in the dike," Delluva said. "If you put your finger in one leak another springs up." Delluva said further changes in security are needed to "ensure a better existence for everyone because it certainly isn't a very good existence right now." She said University Police appear to be making a real effort to solve the problem. Canada said the change could be difficult for officers, who will lose a day off each week and work an extra half-day every day, but they are up to the challenge. "They can handle it as long as it's necessary," Canada said. "They're police officers. They're committed to enforcing the law. We believe this is a temporary problem but we're going to stick with it until we solve it." Officers will increase their usual 40-hour work weeks with 32 hours of overtime. It is unclear how much money the extra hours will cost the University. Canada said, however, that for the University, safety, not money, is the overriding concern.Comments powered by Disqus
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