The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

The University will implement a series of initiatives to supplement security on and around campus, officials announced in an e-mail to the University community late Thursday night.

The new measures include additional police overtime hours, increased lighting, new security cameras and three new transit stops on the boundaries of campus.

The announcement comes just three days after a 20-year-old female student was sexually assaulted by an unknown male inside her apartment on the 4000 block of Spruce Street.

Two weeks earlier, on Oct. 28, a gunfight broke out outside the Koko Bongo nightclub at 38th and Chestnut streets, leaving one person dead and two others injured, including a police officer.

"The two most recent incidents have changed people's perception about crime and have heightened concern and awareness," Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli said. "These measures are intended to address people's fears and concerns."

Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush added that the new initiatives are not a reaction to the recent incidents, explaining that the administration had planned to enact the measures for weeks prior to Monday's sexual assault.

"The announcement was put out quicker because it was clear the community needed to hear from" Penn President Amy Gutmann, Rush said.

It is not yet clear exactly how much the new initiatives will cost, though Carnaroli said they will total at least $2 million. The first phase toward improving lighting, which will span the area from 33rd to 40th streets and Walnut to Spruce streets, will cost about $1.2 million.

The costs of the overtime security forces will "go up and down depending on our needs," Rush said.

Three new security cameras, with prices starting at about $30,000, will be installed on the western boundary of campus in an effort to provide more surveillance coverage for those living in off-campus housing, Rush said.

"I think these measures will add to the effectiveness of the program," she added. "The wild card is that we don't control the universe, but we can do everything possible to ensure that we're doing everything we can as a university to counter the negativity that is in the air here in Philadelphia."

The city has experienced a large surge in violent crime over the last few years and is expected to have over 400 murders for the second consecutive year.

According to DPS statistics, crime around campus is the highest since at least 2004, with 868 total crimes through Nov. 14 compared to 780 crimes at the same point last year and 822 crimes in 2005. The number of robberies has remained relatively steady, however, up to 56 this year from 51 a year ago, and DPS officials have attributed the high total crime to an unusually high number of thefts of unattended items this year.

Rush said that the increase in security, which began Friday evening, is temporary and will last until DPS officials feel that campus and the buffer zone around it are secure and stable.

The new measures come almost two years after the University announced a more extensive revision of its security measures in response to the January 2006 shooting of Engineering senior Mari Oishi just off campus at 38th and Sansom streets.

About a week after the shooting, Gutmann pledged $5 million to DPS, and the money was used to hire 15 more police officers, double the number of security guards on patrol between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m. and install more lighting, cameras, and security phones.

Thursday's announcement does not contain similar plans for an increase in the number of security guards or police officers. Carnaroli said the administration feels "the current staffing levels are appropriate" and that the overtime hours will be used when necessary.

Many students living off-campus are curious to see what effects these changes will have.

"I think it was all very superficial and very generalized," College sophomore Patricia Liu said. "I wonder if anything will actually happen."

Funding for the new program will come from both DPS and the Executive Vice President's office, Rush said. DPS currently has a budget of approximately $21 million, though the exact amount of money devoted to security is usually higher depending on security-related the projects headed by the University.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.