Arizona universities approach crime with simple advice: Be aware

Think smart. Be vigilant. Call the police.

Sounds too simple, but those are the key steps UAPD officials say will help prevent crime around campus.

The most prevalent crime on the University of Arizona campus is theft — laptop computers, bikes, cell phones and other digital devices. The same is true for Northern Arizona University, which also focuses much of its effort on crime prevention.

But the two campuses are located in very different environments — Tucson is more urban and the campus is plunk in the center, while Flagstaff is more rural and the campus’s boundaries are well defined — which affects how they police their campuses.

“With the prevention we try to get the point across that it is a crime of opportunity,” said UAPD Crime Prevention Officer Joe Bermudez.

ASU Police Sgt. Daniel Macias said, “We definitely try to identify trends, so that we can deploy resources so we can get rid of any kind of behavior happening on campus.”

Bermudez said that with crimes of opportunity doing the small things like locking up bikes, keeping personal items with you and reporting crimes when they happen will reduce the likelihood of these crimes occurring.

UAPD also hosts a campus safety presentation for incoming freshman during orientation to reinforce their prevention strategies.

“We cover ways a student or anyone on campus can reduce the risk of becoming a victim,” Bermudez said. “We’ll talk to them about basic campus safety like walking in groups, parking in well lit areas, locking your doors, liquor laws, safety in social settings.”

Bermudez said police also point out the more than 250 blue light phones located throughout the Tucson campus that are a direct line to UAPD. The response time is of two minutes or less, he said.

Northern Arizona University’s Community Relations Officer Chris Anderson said, “We do a whole number of different things. We have a lot of community relations programs to educate the public.”

When it comes to crime prevention, all three state universities operate with the same basic playbook, but NAU has a bit easier of a task. Unlike ASU and UA, whose campuses are intermingled with their surrounding urban communities, NAU has distinctive boundaries that don’t immediately blend into the City of Flagstaff. The campus population with few exceptions — sporting events or performances — is comprised of students and faculty. People with no affiliation to ASU and UA have easy access to the campuses.

“I think you will find similarities on all three universities in the type of crimes involved. All three universities serve basically the same population, the university student. You may notice higher statistics at one university over another and I believe it correlates to the size of population they serve,” said ASU’s Macias. “Within some of the different campuses ASU has, you notice the boundaries of the campus are somewhat blurred. That’s to say the campus is directly within the surrounding city. That campus may therefore face challenges similar to that city.”

“We’re all very unique environments,” NAU’s Anderson said. “Our relationship with and how we interact with our city is different.”

 

Contact reporter at malcolmfuller@email.arizona.edu or follow him on Twitter at @malcolmfuller.

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