From online violence threats to additional bicycle patrol units across campus, Acting Police Chief Craig Stone said Ohio State’s University Police has had a busy Autumn Semester.
Stone said he was pleased with how University Police handled many security operations in his first semester as acting chief, including the Student Safety Services program.
“In the past six months, 95.2 percent of escort demands by students were met,” he said.
Stone said this is a positive trend, and University Police are encouraging students to take advantage of the resources provided.
In response to an online threat of violence against members of the campus community in October, Stone said University Police brought in additional resources to keep everyone on campus safe. Dan Hedman, a spokesman for the Office of Administration and Planning, said he realized how impactful Twitter is for students during this event.
““We noticed social media continues to become a key communications tool to reach students. Our goal is to share as much information as possible and to have a consistent cadence on social media,” Hedman said. In addition, the active shooter video produced by University Police has more than 89,000 views.
OSU Emergency Management and University Police pushed to increase their Twitter followers by the thousands last semester, Stone said. The police’s Twitter handle now has more than 10,400 followers, an increase of more than 2,000 since the beginning of last semester.
Both Stone and Hedman agreed there are important communication resources being explored, such as an updated Department of Public Safety mobile website, which was released this semester.
“In order for people to enhance their safety, they must know what’s going on,” Hedman said.
In November, two incidents called quick response times by University Police, as well as collaboration with non-university police divisions: The death of Austin Singletary, a third-year in human nutrition, on Nov. 25 from injuries sustained during the annual Mirror Lake jump, and a man who killed himself after vandalizing artwork at the Wexner Center for the Arts the following Sunday.
Due to the ongoing investigations, the Department of Public Safety declined to provide additional details about Mirror Lake or the Wexner Center for the Arts incidents.
During the past six months, on-campus crimes covered under the Clery Act have decreased. Stone said Clery crimes include burglary, arson, robbery, sex offenses, murder and many others. The chief reported that these crimes decreased 4 percent from the goal that University Police set for the past semester.
Detectives also went through training on sexual violence at the Fawcett Center to help further their education on prevention. Stone said violent crime on campus is down 11 percent, and all other crimes are down 15 percent comparing fiscal year 2015 to 2014.
As racially charged events have taken place on college campuses across the country, Stone said steps have been taken at OSU to combat foreseeable altercations.
“Members of the OSU PD attended a workshop provided by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion,” he said. “We want the campus community as a whole to feel included.”
Stone and officers met with students who participated in on-campus sit-ins and marches, and they wanted to ensure they were safe in their demonstrations.
These issues, however, do not end with a workshop. Stone added that police are trying to build on-going relationships with as many different groups of students as possible. University Police now has liaisons working with the Muslim student population, Korean organizations, the Undergraduate Student Government, as well as Sorority and Fraternity Life.
Clarification Jan. 28: This article was clarified to state the university declined to comment about Mirror Lake or the Wexner Center for the Arts when asked about the two incidents during the interview.
Update Jan. 28: A link to the recently released department of public safety has been included in this article.