Update on Security Issues

At last Wednesday's University Council meeting, Executive Vice President John Fry and Chief of Police Maureen Rush presented an update on security issues. Mr. Fry said that crime is down within the patrol boundaries (30th-43rd, Market-Baltimore and north of Market St. covering the Presbyterian area) in several categories when compared to the same time period last year. Chief Rush described some of the initiatives conerning safety and security.

For the period of January 1 to October 31, 2000 crime was significantly lower in comparison with the same period for 1999.

Crime Update--January to October: 1999 vs. 2000

Jan.-Oct. 1999 Jan.-Oct. 2000 %Change
Robbery 72 41 -43%
Aggravated Assault 17 13 -24%
Burglary 117 77 -34%
Theft from Auto 117 183 36%
Bike Theft 137 136 0%
Auto Thefts 54 27 -50%
Other Thefts 567 507 -11%
Retail Thefts 119 88 -27%
Total 1,200 1,072 -11%

Additionally, for the period of September and October 2000 crime was significantly lower in comparison with the same period for 1999.

Crime Update--September & October: 1999 vs. 2000

Sept.-Oct. 1999 Sept.-Oct. 2000 %Change
Robbery 32 15 -53%
Aggravated Assualt 4 4 0%
Burglary 35 24 -33%
Theft from Auto 24 29 17%
Bike Theft 44 50 12%
Auto Thefts 11 8 -27%
Other Thefts 144 118 -18%
Retail Theft 28 27 0%
Total 328 279 -15%

Some New Initiatives

UCD Safety Ambassadors/Spectaguard Merger

  • On September 1, the Penn Spectaguard walking escort program merged into the existing University City District Safety Ambassador program.
  • Expansion of walking escort from 30th Street Station to 50th Street and north to Powelton Village area. Extended hours are from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m.
  • Adds extra patrols in the area west of 40th Street.
  • To use this service, call (215) 898-WALK.

Philadelphia CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) System

  • The CAD system went live in June 2000.
  • Enhances UPPD's response time to emergencies being reported directly to the Philadelphia Police's 911 system.
  • UPPD dispatcher sees same computer aided dispatch (CAD) screen as the Philadlphia Police dispatcher--real time response--no delay.
  • Enhanced safety and security for the Penn and West Philadelphia community.
  • The first time in the nation to directly link campus police forces with a municipality's police department, in conjunction with PPD and Temple University.
  • The CAD system prioritizes incoming calls from 0 to 6, with 0 being a call for officer assistance, and 6 a call that does not require immediate attention. Each call is logged and flashes on a monitor so that the city and the universities know what police vehicle or officer is responding.
  • A running log keeps track of how long it takes to resond to a call, how long the officer has been at the scene of a call and the type of incident that has been called in.
  • Sometimes people call 911 instead of Penn Police, but PPD is quite busy, so UPPD used to scan their radio broadcast. With CAD, Penn Police now sees the same screen as PPD. So even if people call 911, UPPD receives it at the same time. They have a protocol set up with PPD to decide what call Penn takes and what they take jointly.

Quality of Life Enforcement Program

  • Departement of Public Safety is working with the Undergraduate Assembly and numerous Penn divisions to positively respond to the calls for help by the West Philadelphia community regarding uncivilized off-campus behavior. Most of their concerns focus on loud parties and unruly street behavior. Public Safety is being proactive by working with members of Penn community and in the West Philadelphia community and UA.
  • Campaign consists of education, awareness and enforcement.
  • Education and awareness are not done through Penn Police, but through UA. peer education-t-o educate students about alcohol abuse, and being good neighbors in the West Philadelphia community.

Chief Rush thanked the Undergraduate Assembly for their leadership and guidance on this initiative.

Crime Prevention Initiatives

Thefts from Autos

  • UPPD places theft awareness notices on vehicles' windshields--theft awareness cards made up by University City Public Safety Group (SEPTA Police, Philadelphia Police, UCD Spectaguards, and Drexel University security); Penn Police meets with the group monthly.
  • UPPD/PPD/Spectaguard Theft Taskforce (plainclothes and uniform officers).
  • Arrests (Problem-perpetrator released on bail and returns to commit more crimes; UPPD works closely with the probation and parole department).
  • Displacement of crime:

In 1999, thefts from auto were between 8 a.m.-4 p.m.--on the east and north end of campus (30th to 38th and Powelton Village)

In 2000, crimes are mostly between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m.--west of 38th Street.

Bike Thefts

Crime prevention through environmental design

  • Relocating bike racks in view of CCTV cameras and lighting
  • Remove abandoned bikes from racks
  • Aggressive patrols of areas with bike racks
  • Arrests--(CCTV video patrols have been responsible for several key arrests --i.e. Steven Scott--arrested over 35 times, 60% in Penn's area, 50% for bike thefts. Arrested, goes to court, receives probation, less than one month later back on our campus stealing another bike, rearrested.

Thefts from Buildings

Chief Rush said that this was an example of cooperation between the Penn community and the UPPD.

  • Crime prevention officers working with building administrators who in turn communicate crime prevention tips to their buidling's occupants.
  • Results: reduction in crime in their buildings.


Dr. Leboy: What about police professionalism, community policing and sensitivity training as opposed to the interaction with Philadelphia Police?

Mr. Fry: We have no intention of ignoring those areas.

Dr. Lior: How much is the police deparment costing and why aren't we going after the City to provide more policing?

Mr. Fry: Back in 1995 we had a much lower budget and we faced a significant amount of crime, and we decided to be proactive instead of waiting for the City. So we reallocated resources from administrative areas. In 1995 the Penn Police's budget was $6 million, now it is about $13 million. John Timoney has been devoting a significant amount of discretionary money in University City, including the UCD Substation with 25 officers.

Mr. Sherr: There used to be wires in bathrooms... now I see more push buttons, is that a policy decision and how does that affect instances of bathroom crimes?

Chief Rush: With the old technology, Houston Hall was a great example--it was an audible alarm but didn't come into a central monitoring station. As renovations go on around campus, you're seeing the new technology--it comes into a central monitoring station which is the Penn Comm Center at 4040 Chestnut, it also has a self-checking device so that if it's not working, it creates a signal back to the computer at our station. Whereas with the pull lever, you didn't know if it was working, and even it was working you had to depend on the kindness of others to find out what was happening.

Mr. Sherr: But is there diminished coverage because the button is only on one wall (whereas the wire went around the walls)?

Chief Rush: No, the bathroom alarm is placed at the exit, so there's a central location. So people should look for that device at the door.

Ms. Dobson: What area does 511 cover?

Chief Rush: UPPD patrols from 30th St. to 43rd St., Market St. to Baltimore Ave.

Mr. Ku (UA): What about summer security , with empty off-campus houses?

Chief Rush: We do special checks just like at Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. People can register with us and we'll do special checks of the properties.

Mr. Chen (UA): I have a question about sensitivity training because I've heard complaints from students who have been stopped past 40th Street, and what they term as harassment from University police officers. How much sensitivty training is provided and how frequent is it?

Chief Rush: We just put the entire division--including the dispatchers who answer the calls--through training this summer. The course covered communications and diversity. It was conducted by a trainer from Penn and an outside consultant who was a former law enforcement person.

Mr. Chen: How frequent will the training be?

Chief Rush: Any new employee has to attend. Every couple of years we're going to be doing sensitivity training with the existing employees. And anything with complaints against police we're working closely with UMC and Du Bois House.

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 13, November 21, 2000