To: University Community
From: President Robert J. Zimmer
Subject: Update on Campus Safety
As we return from the Thanksgiving break, I wanted to let you know about actions we are taking to strengthen campus safety.
Last week I wrote to tell you that police patrols had been permanently and significantly increased. Beginning today, we have established a police substation at 61st and Drexel. This substation will be staffed 24 hours a day and will provide a visible police presence at that location until May when the University of Chicago Police Department is scheduled to locate its headquarters in the new building being constructed there. A visible police substation will remain at the current police headquarters at 56th and Ellis after the new headquarters are opened in May.
Two vans have been added to the SafeRide program. The hours for the SafeRide program have been expanded to begin at 10 p.m., and based on community feedback we are working on beginning the van service at dusk. Phone lines have been added to ensure that callers will be able to reach a dispatcher with their pickup request. The scale and policies concerning this program, as well as other transportation programs, are under review to ensure they are meeting the campus safety needs.
In addition to these immediate measures, we will undertake a sustained and comprehensive effort to improve campus safety. I am appointing a Working Group on Safety and Security composed of faculty, staff, students and community representatives to work intensively on a range of safety improvements. The group will be co-chaired by Kim Goff-Crews, Vice President and Dean of Students in the University, and Rick Rosengarten, Dean of the Divinity School and current Chair of the Committee on Crime Prevention and Security on Campus and in the Neighborhood. The group will review our current security efforts including policing, transportation, lighting, and dissemination of information; solicit ideas for improving campus safety; and make recommendations about additional improvements we should undertake. We have received suggestions from many of you during the past week, and this Working Group will provide a vehicle for systematically taking them into account, as well as soliciting further input.
To help this group assess our current safety program, we are in the process of engaging an external security firm to conduct a thorough review of our security measures and recommend any changes that might increase our effectiveness.
We also are working in partnership with City of Chicago officials, local elected officials, community leaders and residents to address the level of crime on the mid-South Side. We have extensive programs with our South Side community involving education, housing, jobs, and other aspects inherent to a community that fosters a safe and secure environment. We will continue this work. UCPD Chief Rudy Nimocks has been working closely with Chicago Police Superintendent Dana Starks, and the Chicago Police Department also has increased its patrols in the neighborhoods near campus. In addition, I will be meeting with Mayor Richard M. Daley to ask for his support in finding ways to further reduce crime in our community.
I have asked Sonya Malunda, Assistant Vice President and Director of Community Affairs, to play a coordinating role for all of our emerging efforts concerning safety.
Students who would like to learn more about neighborhood safety are encouraged to attend one of two Security Forums sponsored by Student Government in partnership with the University of Chicago Police. Students living in off-campus housing are invited to attend the forum tonight (November 26) at 5 p.m. at the GSB Harper Center, Room 010. Students living in University Housing are invited to attend the forum on Wednesday, November 28, at 5 p.m. in the Reynolds Club McCormick Tribune Lounge. For more information about these programs, visit http://sg.uchicago.edu/.
The safety of our campus environment is a top priority. We thank those of you who have submitted ideas for safety improvements and welcome additional suggestions and feedback as this work progresses. We will continue to post information about our safety efforts to our web page at http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/07/071119.safety.msg.shtml