University police gear up for new school year

With move-in day only one day away, the University Police Department is actively preparing for the upcoming school year, beginning with an increase in the number of police officers on staff.

“Currently, we have 60 officers, up from 55, and intend to hire two more in the very near future,” said University Police Lieutenant Skip Frost.

Though an increase in officers is important to the department, Frost added that much more is being done throughout campus to augment safety, including increasing the number of security cameras on campus.

Last year, security cameras were added to the entryways of all residence halls and several other University buildings.

“We’re working with business owners and property management companies to erect even more of these cameras to aid in our deterrence of crime and apprehension of persons who violate the law,” Frost said.

In addition to the extra cameras, Frost said the department has also hired a staff of security guards who will be present in the housing facilities.

“This staff will be a uniformed presence to keep the housing areas safe and secure,” Frost said.

He also said the security guards will work as an extension of the University of Illinois police, not as a replacement.

“We will not reduce — in any way — our police officers’ focus on the housing areas,” he said.

Due to a donation of $10,000 made by the Mothers Association, University police recently purchased two electric sentinels. These three-wheeled vehicles are equipped with lights and a siren to assist both patrol officers and the student patrol officers who will utilize them to conduct Safe Walks.

“I think that once the community sees these sentinels out and about, they will make a very positive impression,” Frost said.

University police also began using a new alert system, called the RAVE System, to replace the old Illini-Alert system. This system was selected because of its reliability and track record of success on other comparable campuses, Frost said.

“While we are thankful for the system we had, the new system has both the proven record of success and potential for improvement,” Frost said. “We expect a significant improvement in reliability, effectiveness and timeliness with the RAVE system.”

Frost added that while the new department improvements will be helpful, individual involvement and responsibility within the campus community is key.

“We need the community to be aware and contact us immediately if or when they see something that requires police attention,” he said.

Overall, Frost said the department is committed to being visible and proactive in their patrol activities for the upcoming school year.

“What we strive to be, ultimately, is a resource to the students, staff, faculty and the rest of the University community,” he said.

Senior in LAS, Kelson McAuliffe said he hasn’t noticed much of a presence in University police on campus. He said he wishes to see more security visible during the upcoming year.

“Based on how things have been going, it seems common to know someone these days who has been involved in some sort of assault or robbery on campus during all points of the day and in all locations, even in school buildings,” he said. “So just a feeling of a more secure campus (would be an improvement), instead of always feeling like you need to be ready to defend yourself.”

Frost encourages all incoming freshmen to visit the University of Illinois police department’s website at “www.police.illinois.edu”:www.police.illinois.edu to familiarize themselves with safety tips it has compiled.