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Pub Safe aims to build safer campus despite student concerns

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At the start of this fall, Public Safety started their new program, Building Patrol Notice, to increase awareness of college campus theft and other safety issues.

The Building Patrol Notice, or BPN, is a system of communication for Public Safety officers to indicate safety concerns to students, and it will serve educational purposes for the community.

“Officers are now able to leave a note, or BPN, to indicate a concern, such as lights left on, an unlocked door, or unattended property. In certain circumstances, if the item left behind is of value, the officer may choose to secure the item and leave a BPN note for the owner to contact public safety,” said Director of Public Safety Mike Hill.

Because of the college’s low crime rate, many students sometimes leave their belongings unattended in public spaces. However, theft does happen, as Public Safety confirmed that several dozen thefts occur every year on average at Swarthmore. Some lost personal items were of high value.

“College campuses are a frequent target for opportunity theft of unattended property, especially at the beginning of the semester and during exam times,” said Hill.

According to the college’s most recent crime statistics report as mandated by the Clery Act, there were 12 reported counts of burglary and 94 reported counts of larceny in 2013, which decreased to five counts of burglary and 87 counts of larceny in 2014. In 2015, reported burglary counts increased to 10, but larceny decreased to 55.

In a Sept. 7 email to all the Residential Assistants, Assistant Director of Residential Communities Isaiah Thomas echoed Hill’s theft concerns.

“Please work with your residents to ensure that they secure their doors (and your own door!) when you are not in your room.  We do have thefts from rooms on our campus, and we recently learned about a serious theft that occurred at Haverford College today,” wrote Thomas. Although the Haverford theft was unspecified, it involved a student’s belongings being stolen from their room.

The RAs have also been informed of BPN at one of their meetings. Connor Hodge ’19, a current RA in Dana, expressed his concern about Public Safety directly taking away students’ belongings.

“They told us during training, and a lot of people were like, ‘Wow, what’s this about?’ … They obviously have good intent. They’re obviously just trying to keep people’s stuff from being stolen. That’s their job. That’s fair. But it’s also like, ‘Wow! My stuff!’” said Hodge.

Public Safety’s intention in initiating the BPN is to increase awareness and help community members secure their personal properties.

“It is far better to be proactive than reactive and it’s certainly preferable to have an officer secure an item of value instead of taking a report of stolen property … It is my sincere hope that our community will see this as part of our ongoing commitment to making sure that people and property are safe.” said Hill.

Along with BPN, Public Safety also introduced the Garnet Safety Award this year.

“This award is intended to recognize individuals in our community who have worked with Public Safety in responding to a safety issue or incident. Recipients are nominated by Public Safety Officers and leadership,” wrote Hill in his welcome back letter to students.

Hill further explained that this award has been implemented to acknowledge the contribution that any community members made to the safety of Swarthmore.

“Over the last several years I have made a concerted effort to acknowledge members of the Public Safety team when they have gone above and beyond the call of duty.  I’m excited to share that we will extend this practice to include all community members.  The award is given by Public Safety to a community member(s) who worked with public safety involving a safety matter or incident,” said Hill.

To improve security on campus, the OneCard system has also been updated over the summer. OneCard now covers all residential buildings on campus, in addition to several academic and administrative buildings.

Public Safety has initiated these new policies or updates to help build a safer campus. However, it remains to be seen whether these new policies will be effective.

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