University of Dayton police annouced several measures Thursday aimed at making UD police a more visible presence on and around campus.
Police will work their beats, for example, with bright red and blue lights on top of their cruisers continually lit — but not flashing or with sirens unless they’re responding to a call.
And police are setting up a substation in the student housing neighborhood at 461 Kiefaber Street.
UD Police Chief Rodney Chatman said the lights on top of the cruisers act as a “force multiplier,” alerting students and would-be criminals that police are nearby. For example, he said someone standing at the corner of Brown Street and Kiefaber will be able to see patrol vehicles all the way down Kiefaber and up Brown Street to Irving.
“Oftentimes the perception of safety is as real as the occurrence of crime,” Chatman said. “One thing that adds to the perception of safety is people feeling like police are around.”
Chatman took over the 31-officer UD police department in January. Prior to that he was a captain for the University of Cincinnati police department. The efforts announced Thursday were the first major safety initiatives of his tenure.
Chatman said UC and other city police departments across the country use continually lit cruiser lights, called “steady beacons,” though none in this area do.
“I would like (students) to look up, and when they see the red and blue they know there is someone associated with public safety nearby,” he said.
Chatman also wants police to have more interaction with the UD community, and he hopes many of those interactions take place at a new police substation at 461 Kiefaber, which is currently a community house. He plans to have officers there during posted hours, and staff up the facility during busy events such as St. Patrick’s Day or the NCAA tournament.
Chatman also announced plans to increase training on fair and impartial policing, and hire a diversity and inclusion recruitment officer.
Chatman said the efforts were not in response to any recent crimes, though over the weekend the school was forced to notify students that a burglar climbed into the window of a sleeping student’s home and ran away when confronted. Chatman said he was “optimistic” the culprit would be caught.
A review of UD’s publicly accessible campus crime log Thursday found that since classes started on Aug. 24 campus police have responded mostly to underage consumption, public intoxication and noise complaints. There also were five reported sexual assaults, though three were from incidents alleged to have occurred last year.
As she walked down Kiefaber Street on Thursday, Elizabeth Thurgaland, a junior communications major, said she wishes there were more police call boxes around campus. But overall she said she feels that the campus is safe and has felt increasingly safer since her freshman year.
“You know a lot of kids don’t like the amount of cops that we have here on campus,” she said. “But at the same time if I was in a dangerous situation I would really appreciate how quick and on top of it and how closely they pay attention to the students’ well-being here on campus.”