Two new initiatives from University Police and the Columbus Division of Police aim to make students safer, according to a joint announcement by the two departments Thursday.
The announcement was part of the first “Rolling Roll Call,” where University Police seek to provide recent crime information to the OSU community in a public setting.
“Operation Safeguard” was announced where Student Safety Service, which currently escorts students home between the hours of 7 p.m. and 3 a.m., will hire a moderate number of extra security to help the extra patrols to increase police visibility.
The new initiatives will not cost either police division extra money. Student Safety Service, however, will receive an additional $50,000 for the next semester to pay for more personnel and more hours for current staff, said Sean Bolender, program coordinator of Student Safety Service. The money will come from the university, though neither Bolender nor an OSU spokesman knew where the funds were from specifically.
A new “East of High initiative” will have Student Safety officers walking neighborhood streets east of High Street.
“With the new East of High initiative, we are increasing staffing. So this is part of our commitment to safety here. The university is, of course, supporting us and giving us the money to be able to do that,” Bolender said. “If you invest that kind of money, and provide that kind of safety, it’s very hard to put a price on that. Any crime we can prevent, it’s worth it.”
Undergraduate Student Government President Celia Wright said she is glad the new initiatives are happening.
“I’m really glad we’re doing the push to affect safety trends for students,” said Wright, a fourth-year in public health, who was present at the event. “I’m glad OSU is doing what they can to stay safe.”
Columbus Police will give more reports to University Police, said Columbus Police Deputy Chief Thomas Quinlan.
“Part of the new initiative is to make sure there is no gaps in communication, and (University Police Chief Paul Denton and I) talk all the time,” Quinlan said. “We have an environment where we are truly committed to the students’ safety, and student safety comes first.”
Denton said the initiative was already in the works before an incident last week where a woman who was not affiliated with OSU was allegedly raped in an abandoned off-campus garage. She was found pinned under the alleged attacker when three CPD bike patrol officers shined flashlights in what they though was an abandoned garage.
“That is excellent police work, and I credit Columbus Police, but that incident was off-campus again, and events here today were planned for a couple of weeks,” Denton said.
Denton added that the initiative should help students feel safe, whether they are on- or off-campus.
“We’ll have the same number of officers on duty, but the question we’re addressing is we never see officers on duty,” Denton said. “This will gather officers, like today, and profile the people on duty and increase visibility of those on duty.”