University Police Acting Chief Craig Stone during his swearing in ceremony on May 1. Credit: Courtesy of Dan Mackey

University Police Acting Chief Craig Stone during his swearing in ceremony on May 1. Credit: Courtesy of Dan Mackey

As newly appointed Acting Chief of OSU Police, I’ve quickly come to appreciate the full reach of our Department of Public Safety. Here at Ohio State, our focus on safety is not limited to our sworn police and security officers — we are lucky to have students, faculty and staff that take safety seriously too.

One courageous student shared his story in a Letter to the Editor published in the Wednesday, Sept. 16 edition of The Lantern. I want to personally thank our students for being committed to the safety of their fellow Buckeyes and echo the sentiment that safety is everyone’s responsibility.

In this spirit, I want to clarify a few assertions made in the Sept. 16 Letter to the Editor to ensure our entire campus community has full access to crime information and safety resources.

Ohio State does in fact have a daily crime log which is available to the public and allows anyone to view all crimes reported to the University Police Division within our law enforcement jurisdiction. In compliance with federal law, this log includes all criminal incidents — from the most serious to those that might be considered relatively minor — reported to OSU Police and that occur on campus or other Clery reportable property.

Crime is an unfortunate reality, and we agree students, faculty and staff should utilize this resource to better understand the types of crimes occurring on or around campus. Likewise, the Columbus Division of Police offers similar resources for crimes occurring off-campus, and we encourage students to access RAIDS Online.

Ohio State and the city of Columbus recently renewed our Mutual Aid Agreement to provide mutual assistance and interchange and use of OSU Police and City resources. This agreement represents the strong partnership we share with the city in addressing crime both on- and off-campus, and it encourages cooperation and collaboration between OSU Police and Columbus Police in enhancing agency communication regarding off-campus crime.

Our Department of Public Safety has worked hard to reduce crime.  Violent crime on campus is down 11 percent and all other crimes are down 15 percent comparing fiscal year 2015 to 2014. In addition, violent crime in Columbus decreased by 3 percent compared to last year. However, crime still does occur, and everyone needs to be alert and take safety seriously. We always remind students, faculty and staff:

  • To be vigilant about safety and look out for one another. If you see someone who might need assistance, always reach out for help.
  • Do not walk alone and always be aware of your surroundings, especially at night.
  • If you see something suspicious, call University Police at 614-292-2121 or (off-campus) Columbus Police at 614-645-4545. Always dial 9-1-1 in an emergency.
  • Utilize transportation services and take advantage of our additional safety resources, such as our student escort service which operates from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Our Student Safety Service officers provide rides, per appointment at 614-292-3322, free of charge and fulfilled 96.61 percent of requests during August. Through Operation Safeguard, these student officers also patrol North High Street and the immediate off-campus area serving as the eyes and ears of local law enforcement.

In addition, we encourage all off-campus students to visit Student Life’s Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services office in the Ohio Union to obtain free window and door alarms. And it might seem obvious, but always lock doors and windows and be aware of your surroundings.

Ohio State has established two very distinct and separate notification systems to inform students, faculty and staff about possible threats to safety: Public Safety Notices and Buckeye Alerts. Public Safety Notices are issued by the Police Division and exist to increase awareness about a criminal incident in order to promote safety and aid in the prevention of similar crimes. These are sent via email when a serious crime occurs that demonstrates an ongoing threat to the campus community. OSU Police review the known details of each reported criminal incident on a case-by-case basis with the safety of the campus community in mind. The following criteria are considered before issuing a Public Safety Notice:

  • Did a crime occur?
  • Did the crime occur on campus property or on other Clery Reportable property?
  • Is the crime a Clery reportable crime?
  • Is there a serious or continuing threat to the campus community?

In addition, the Buckeye Alert system consists of two dozen ways to notify our campus community, but the most widely known is via text message. These alerts are issued by OSU Emergency Management only when we believe that there is an imminent threat to the health or safety of the campus community: In other words, when people might need to take immediate action to remain safe.

Finally, through programs like the recently announced Buckeyes ACT, we urge anyone who is the victim of, or witness to, a crime to contact the appropriate authorities. We want to help because your safety is our top priority.

Craig A. Stone is the acting chief of police of the Ohio State University Police Division.