Safety tips for UA students

By Tyler Coventry, Copy Editor

For many people, going away to college means freedom and new experiences. However, there is something that every new student needs to understand: you live in Akron now. It is not as safe as the suburbs most of you came from and to pretend it is would be stupid. Don’t be stupid.

I sat down with Captain Bryan Taylor of The University of Akron Police Department and we talked about crime and safety on and around campus. Captain Taylor has worked in law enforcement for the past 20 years and the UAPD for the last 16. The UAPD has 44 officers and is operationally equivalent to the City of Akron Police Department. I asked Captain Taylor what his officers deal with.

“More than anything else, there is a large amount of theft. That is probably the number one reported [crime]. Things walk away, whether it be at the student union where they just set something on the table or wherever—opportunity crimes,” Taylor said. “A lot of the stuff the officers do is preventative. [The officers] patrol. What goes on in the student union versus what goes on in the recreation center. Officers try to get in touch with that.”

This seems relatively easy to prevent. Just watch your stuff. Far less common is getting mugged, but it is still a concern for many students and just people in general.

Q: What are some ways to avoid being mugged?

A: “Use the buddy system. When you go out at night, go in a group. Be aware of your surroundings. [If] something doesn’t look right to you, stop, cross the street, go inside of a business. The one thing I cannot stress enough is the campus escort service. That can keep you safe. If you happen to be out alone and don’t want to go alone.”

Q: If you could give advice to someone being mugged right now, what would you tell them?

A: “I would tell them to, [for] self preservation, give them what they ask for, particularly if there’s a weapon involved. Try to be the best witness that you can be without being overt. Contact the police at your earliest opportunity.”

Q: In the past month or so, the UA Public Safety Advisory has sent out notifications of two burglaries near campus. They both occurred while the victim was at home. How common is that?

A: “[Those are] not very common. They’re not opportunity crimes in the sense that you left your stuff on the table. They come and go in cycles. The beginning of the school year is a big time. Just to be completely honest with you, students have the gear. They have the phones and the TVs. They’ve got the stuff that is easy to steal and easy to translate into dollars elsewhere. So not having that stuff visible from outside the home is one idea. [Burglars] see all these various kids moving in and they see the stuff being moved in. It creates an opportunity.”

Q: Any tips for surviving a break-in?

A: “Same tips as during a robbery. Making noise can often times scare somebody off from a possible attacker. Anybody that wants to burglarize a home wants to do so while nobody’s there.”

Q: A lot of this seems to be “don’t be afraid to get the police involved.”

A: “Yeah that’s a central note. Yes there are 44 of us but this is one big campus and we can’t be everywhere at once. So safety becomes a partnership. Yes it’s our responsibility but we need the students’ help. Some of our best information comes from people being observant and not being afraid to say ‘hey, this is what I saw nothing more nothing less.’”

Q: There are more than 400 emergency phones scattered throughout the campus. If I push the button on one of the emergency phones, how long before an officer shows up?

A: “Minutes. Every time of day.”

Q: You know and I know that there is a ton of underage drinking happening on college campuses. Many of these people are first-time drinkers, especially freshmen who are out of the house for the first time. Short of “Don’t do it.” is there any advice you would like to give them to keep them safe?

A: “I would throw in the proviso. With that said, we’re realistic. We know it’s going to happen. Be responsible, know your limitations and don’t overdo it. Know the people that you’re with. Know that your perceptions and judgments are going to be impaired. You’re not going to do your best thinking. Obviously don’t go to extremes.”

Q: UA student has been arrested –what is the most likely reason?

A: “Most likely alcohol related.”

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

A: “Dealing with the students on a one-on-one basis. I mean, I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. It’s not always positive but a majority of the time it is. And that’s the most rewarding part, getting to do something that actually helps somebody. I know that’s kind of cliché but that’s it.”