University Police tell Illinois Student Senate crime is down

University Chief of Police Barbara O’Connor updated the Illinois Student Senate, or ISS, about safety measures the University Police Department is taking to make the campus more secure. The addition of security cameras and security personnel has contributed to a decline in crime, O’Connor said.

“I’m happy to tell you crime is down,” she said.

She attributes this to the recent hiring of six additional officers, the presence of security at the residence halls and the 610 security cameras around campuses.

Security at residence halls has helped the department prevent many crimes. Capt. Skip Frost said the presence of security personnel has helped the department convict offenders, “especially controlled substance violations,” Frost said. In addition to substance violators, these security forces have also apprehended a few bike thieves.

In terms of hiring, O’Connor said staffing levels are appropriate to adequately serve the community. The department has been awarded a $600,000 government grant. O’Connor informed ISS that the department is now focusing on strengthening the bicycle unit.

Approximately five new bikes have been purchased and officers are currently being trained for the unit. O’Connor also pointed out the increased presence of officers in the campus district, especially late nights near bars.

“Now that staffing levels are where they need to be, we need to be proactive,” O’Connor said.

She explained that the department wants to implement programs like self-defense and rape-prevention courses.

With the recent video footage of the robbery at Espresso Royale, the department explained the importance of security cameras on campus. Detective Tim Hetrick said cameras are concentrated on doors and elevators as this increases the likelihood of capturing offenders on camera.

“Individual departments contact us to request cameras in their buildings,” Hetrick said. He also said that the Illini Union has the most cameras, with 56, of all of the buildings on campus.

He said it costs approximately $1,500 to install a camera, and cameras can cost between $800 and $2,000. O’Connor explained that this cost is worth it.

“The cameras are being used on a daily basis by investigators,” she said.