Eight New Steps in Campus Safety

I would like to spend the majority of our time together tonight talking with you--discussing campus safety and security. It is a very, very important subject to me, as it is to you; to all of us who live and work in this community. I very much want to hear from you. I do, though, have some comments as preface [to the Q & A].

First, I should report to you that Patrick Leroy is doing well, considering all he has been through. I visited him yesterday. Valarie Swain Cade -McCoullum was with him a few hours ago, and she reports that he is looking and feeling much better. His doctors expect him to make a good recovery. That is very, very good news.

Second, and I want to be clear about this with you, what happened to Patrick Leroy is an outrage. We can never, ever accept senseless acts of violence. We can never, ever explain them as a "fact of life" here, and we will not. You feel outrage. I do, too.

Are we committed to making this a safe place to live and work? Absolutely. We spend $15 million dollars a year on safety and security here. We support one of the largest private police forces in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We provide one of the most extensive networks of escort services of any university in the country. Those are facts, and you should know them.

Can we do more? We have to.

Can the city of Philadelphia to do more? It must.

We will do more, beginning here tonight, to supplement what we already do--and what we have committed to do in the long term:

  1. We will expand our existing police force with the addition of 10 new officers. We also are assigning a new tactical team of five experienced officers to the 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift to target violent crime in areas surrounding the campus. We will not be specific as to where these officers will function--that would simply "tip off" those who wish to violate our safety and security--but this team will operate on the city streets adjacent to the campus.

  2. We will expand the network of "blue-light" phones, establishing 66 new locations, including at least 30 locations in areas adjacent to the campus that have been the targets of violent crime. This new commitment will not in any way detract from what we have previously announced as a commitment to upgrade existing campus and off-campus "bluelight" phones with state-of-the-art technology. The renovation and expansion of this system will begin no later than Nov. 1.

  3. We have gained a commitment from the Philadelphia Police Department to provide three additional foot patrol officers on the streets surrounding the campus in the evening hours, an additional patrol car in the area 24-hours-per-day, and two additional patrol cars in the surrounding community between midnight and 4 a.m. This is, I might add, a welcome response.

  4. We are placing 10 security guards on the city streets adjacent to campus in the evening hours to supplement our police officers and those provided by the city of Philadelphia. Specifically, these officers will patrol the area west of 40th Street between Chestnut and Baltimore.

  5. We have gained a commitment from SEPTA to provide both a mobile unit and six officers to patrol in and around the subway system that services the campus. SEPTA also has agreed to be more aggressive as it monitors the condition of its call box system.

  6. We will aggressively "go after" businesses that are by their action--or inaction--breaking the law and attracting those intent on victimizing us.

  7. We will support PennWatch, financially and otherwise--and you should, too.

  8. We will aggressively pursue all "quality of life" issues in the surrounding community that impact on our safety and security--and that of our good neighbors. Specifically, that means we will redouble our efforts to address problems of the homeless, panhandling, trash, collection, graffiti and, perhaps most important, we will do everything possible to foster economic development of the immediate areas surrounding the campus.

These things, I think, will help. Meanwhile, we will accelerate our plans to install state-of-the art electronic security systems in our buildings and residences. We will encourage and support Mr. Seamon and his officers as they, and we, implement the strategic plan for the Division of Public Safety. And we will use every available university resource to identify, arrest, and prosecute those intent on victimizing us. We want to deliver the strongest possible message to the criminal element--stay away from the University of Pennsylvania. The strength of our new investigative presence--eight experienced investigators whose task is to arrest violent offenders and get them off the streets--is already being felt; 17 of 28 reported cases have been "cleared" to date--and that by any law enforcement standard is an exceptional record.

We are grateful to the Philadelphia Police Department for the special assistance it is prepared to offer us, but we expect more. This university is a vital economic and intellectual force in Philadelphia, and we have every right--you have every right--to expect its protection on city streets.

Many of you have expressed to me and to others that you want to help. That gives me great encouragement. Together, there are 40,000 pairs of "eyes and ears" in our community. If you see something or someone suspicious, report it. Watch out for each other; we are all in this together.

I encourage you, too, to contact Mayor Rendell. He and others in city government should know, indeed they must know, how you feel--and what you expect of our elected representatives. This is particularly important in terms of requesting additional street lightsthese are city streets--and the timely repair of existing lighting.

When I was here at Penn 25 years ago, the University imposed great restrictions on its students--particularly its female students. You could not come and go as you pleased; there were curfews. We signed inand we signed out. The University functioned as a parent. It wanted to know where you were and with whom. It dictated your comings and goings. Well, I don't have to tell you that times have changed--and much of what the University accepted as a surrogate parent then, is in your hands now.

Even though times have changed, my sense of responsibility for you has not. I take it very seriously. I urge you to take advantage of the many services we provide for you here--escort services, counseling services, and other student servicesand be smart.

-- Judith Rodin at the open meeting with students Thursday, September 26, in Zellerbach Theatre

Dear Penn Students:

Random acts of violence have increased in our country and in our community. These acts have a terrible impact not only on victims and their loved ones, but on all members of the Penn family. We already have in place institutional resources to provide prevention and educational outreach including specific advice on responsible safety and security measures each of us can take. Even though campus police have increased patrols on and around campus, we urge you to continue your vigilance in using these resources and in closely following these guidelines.

Please take extra precautions while traveling. Use the safety services that Penn has made available, particularly the campus bus and escort services. Avoid walking alone after dark, and use Bluelight phones to report any situation when you feel threatened.

In the coming days, you will hear of additional services and supports regarding safety at Penn. The Penn Police welcome all calls for safety and security information and assistance--both for yourself and for your group or organization. The number you can call, for Penn Safety and Security Special Services, is (215) 898-8848.

We urge you to exercise good judgment in your travels and to avoid circumstances that increase your risks including the following:

Working together, we can help to keep our campus safe.


-- Thomas Seamon, Managing Director of Public Safety, and
Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, Vice Provost for University Life,
by e-mail 9/26/96


Volume 43 Number 6
October 1, 1996

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