12:38am Saturday 23 September 2017

Students reminded to take precautions as time change ushers in darker evenings

The University aims to protect students, faculty and staff with safety services and protocols, including a Safe Walk service, emergency phones and a card-access system at residence hall entrances.

— While it is always good practice to walk in groups, the Safe Walk Service provides accompaniment from dusk to dawn to students and employees who may feel unsafe walking on campus at night. The escort will be a member of Auxiliary Police, the uniformed student division of University Police. Callers requesting the service will be asked to provide a name, telephone number, present location and intended destination. Callers then will be given an approximate time that an officer will arrive. The service operates on campus and within reasonable walking distance off campus. To request a Safe Walk Service escort, call 814-865-WALK (9255).

On-campus emergency phones, easily recognized by their blue lights, are available to use free of charge to report an emergency or criminal activity. The phones automatically call University Police when the receiver is picked up or when the red button on the phone is pushed. Emergency phones without blue lights also are available in residence halls and 24-hour buildings usually near entrances.

— The card-access system at residence hall entrances is designed to protect students by only allowing authorized access to the buildings. It requires the cooperation of students, who should not hold doors open for others, especially if they are not recognized as building residents.

— People walking on campus in the evening hours also should know which paths are well lit and offer the best visibility at night. The campus night map can be found online or picked up at the University Police station in Eisenhower Parking Deck.

Sgt. Franie Pollock, crime prevention officer with University Police, added that it is important for people walking on campus to unplug from their electronic devices and be aware of their surroundings.

“Our main message is to ‘look up,’” Pollock said. “If people are looking up, they’re seeing where they’re going and are aware of their surroundings to increase their safety.”

Pollock said safety measures include only crossing streets at cross walks, not walking in between parked cars and making sure to see and be seen. “Drivers need to see you to avoid you, so don’t be distracted,” she said. “Watch for turning vehicles when crossing multiple lanes because one driver may see you, but the another may not.”

Additionally, if you see suspicious activity, such as a heated argument that you think could turn to a physical assault or someone lurking around a building, don’t hesitate to call University Police right away.

“If it’s nothing, we go and talk to the person to make sure they’re not lost or don’t need help, but if it is something, then you could have prevented a very serious crime, so don’t second-guess your intuitions,” Pollock said. “Nothing is too small; we’re never bothered. We’ll look into every report, every time.”

Witnesses and victims of crime at the University Park campus should contact University Police at 814-863-1111.

For more information on victim resources — including a victim resource officer, a sexual assault and relationship violence hotline, and medical and emotional support — visit http://www.police.psu.edu/up-police/services/victim-resources.cfm.

University Police Chief Tyrone Parham offers the following safety tips:

— If you see it, report it.
— If you are a victim, get to safety and then report it.
— Trust your instincts if a situation feels uncomfortable.

— Look out for your friends and agree to leave social gatherings together.
— Get verbal consent every time. Don’t assume you know what the other person wants.
— If you choose to drink, drink responsibly. Be aware of how alcohol affects you. Drinking obviously impairs judgment and can make people vulnerable to crime or unable to care for themselves, but it also can make some individuals act in aggressive ways. Being under the influence is not a defense for committing sexual/physical assault.
— Don’t allow unescorted guests into residence halls. Residence halls are controlled by 24-hour electronic access.
— Always lock your door.
— Know the phone number for University Police. Students need to program 814-863-1111 into their cellphones.
— Be aware of surroundings. Pay attention while walking. Call police if you notice suspicious or unusual behavior.

Contacts: 

Frances Pollack

 

Heather Hottle Robbins

Work Phone: 
814-865-7517

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