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Ohio State creates Neighborhood Safety Notices in efforts to keep off-campus safe

The university began the implementation of Neighborhood Safety Notices — emails sent to students about crimes or crime trends — last June in an effort to keep its off-campus areas safe. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

It’s not quite a Buckeye Alert, but it’s still worth attention.

Ohio State’s Neighborhood Safety Notice email notifications alert students and university employees of crimes or crime trends that are serious or pose a continuing threat that occur on property that is not owned or operated by Ohio State.

The university began the implementation of Neighborhood Safety Notices June 2016 in an effort to keep its students and employees aware of off-campus crime. Since then, students and employees have received alerts of robberies near High Street, and recently, a “serial groper” at an off-campus bar who was summoned by Columbus Police for groping two women.

The Neighborhood Safety Notices provides a larger scope to safety procedures that Ohio State decided to add in addition to Buckeye Alerts. Public Safety Notices are required by the Clery Act, a national university requirement to disclose information about crimes that occur on or around campus.

The decision to send these alerts was made after comparing safety procedures of other universities and finding that some schools had created similar safety notices.

“It’s just an extension of that philosophy to be more broad and recognizing that Ohio State University is within a major city and students, faculty and staff live or work or hang out in the immediate off-campus area,” Dan Hedman, spokesman for Ohio State’s Office of Administration and Planning, said. “Just because it’s not within the Clery guidelines doesn’t mean public safety doesn’t want to keep students, faculty and staff aware of the information.”

The university began the implementation of Neighborhood Safety Notices — emails sent to students about crimes or crime trends — last June in an effort to keep its off-campus areas safe. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

The areas of Clery covers is the immediate campus area, with a border at High Street, meaning anything east of High Street is considered off-campus.

Noncampus buildings the university owns or controls are also covered under the Clery Act, including places like fraternity and sorority houses and medical buildings.

Neighborhood Safety Notices are issued on a case-by-case basis, according to the Department of Public Safety’s website. Some considerations of the issuances are information known on the crime, the seriousness of the crime, the proximity to campus, the victim’s affiliation to Ohio State and whether the suspect was charged with a criminal offense or arrested.

When it is determined there is a danger to the campus community, Buckeye Alerts, usually sent out via text message, are issued by the university. This might require immediate action from the campus community, like the alert sent out Nov. 28 when a student drove his car into a crowd of students and injured 11 people with a knife. The alert told students to take cover.

Public Safety Notices are emails drafted by University Police that are distributed by the Ohio State Department of Public Safety after crimes occur on campus or on public property within or immediately adjacent to campus.

Similarly, Ohio State’s Department of Public Safety might work alongside other police departments, such as Columbus Division of Police, to ensure that the information sent out in the Neighborhood Safety Notices is accurate.

“We run a first draft quickly by [Columbus Police] to make sure it is accurate because we wouldn’t want to send something out based on what we’re hearing from media outlets or on social media that isn’t accurate or jeopardize a case that they’re working on,” said Monica Moll, the director of Ohio State’s Department of Public Safety.

Hedman believes communication between the Ohio State community and police will keep campus safe and students more aware.

“We have always told people see something, say something. If you see something going on let us know so we can take a look, whether its OSU police or Columbus police that are gonna take a look and investigate that,” Headman said. “The more people are aware of things that are currently going on in the immediate off-campus area, the more they can be aware of what’s going on elsewhere.”

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