Student Parking: A look at student safety

With the many complications of student parking and related crime rates on campus, I decided to do a Q&A with John Martellaro, UMKC’s Director of Media Relations, to see how campus police are handling these situations and reducing specific crime rates.

Q: On a semester basis, how many incidents are there regarding car accidents and car break-ins on campus? What are you doing to reduce these specific incidents?

A: “During 2017, we had 38 car accidents. Of those, 20 were hit & run accidents, 17 non-injury accidents, and one pedestrian accident. There were eight car break-ins on campus during 2017. UMKC police monitor and patrol parking areas, but do not provide details on those activities, as that could help criminals evade our efforts. We also advise the campus community on crime prevention steps through a variety of communications, including the annual Campus Crime and Fire Safety Report.”

Q: Are there cameras on campus? If not, then why? If so, where are they located and how often are they monitored?

A: We do have multiple security cameras on both campuses. As stated above, we do not make their location or other details public.

Q:  Is your team aware that thousands of UMKC students are forced to park off campus (due to the lack of student parking spots) and must commute to class on foot (even in the evenings)? How do you feel this endangers students?

A: There are usually student parking spots available in the parking structures on the two campuses. The UMKC police monitor and patrol campus. We also provide escorts from buildings to cars for students who request them. During 2016, police investigated one assault complaint on the Volker campus and zero complaints on the Health Sciences campus, so our campus is a very safe environment. UMKC police work very hard to make sure it stays that way.

Q: On a semester basis, how many incidents are there regarding student’s safety on campus (calls about being followed, calls about suspicious individuals, etc.) are these incidents on campus or near campus and are they usually in the morning or evenings?

A: If the incident is a crime that occurred on campus a report is taken. If a person is reported as suspicious, and deemed to be so by the responding officer, a report is taken.  Most suspicious person reports are not crimes.  In 2017, police took 15 on-campus suspicious person reports. These incidents occur throughout all times of the day.

Q: Does your dispatch team patrol areas that are near campus but not on campus (mornings and/or evenings)? If so, how often? If not, why not?

A: Police officers continually patrol, 24/7, on campus and areas immediately adjacent to campus.

Q: What steps does your team take in ensuring campus safety?

A: As I already mentioned, UMKC police provide safety information to students, and patrol and monitor the campus. We also send out alerts whenever we receive a report of a violent crime if the suspect is not in custody and believed to be a danger to others. In these communications, we advise students to always be attentive to their surroundings – whether on campus, shopping or at home; to call 911 for help if they feel threatened or suspect someone is following them; and advise them that crime prevention tips, as well as informational workshops, may be obtained by contacting the crime prevention office of the UMKC Police Department at 816-235-1515, or visiting the UMKC Police website.

Q: What solutions do you suggest to the head of UMKC regarding student parking safety? How would more accessible parking to students make your team’s job easier?

A: Campus safety is always a work in progress. The UMKC police stay up to date on best practices in law enforcement and safety and periodically make recommendations to the administration for process improvements.

When a student invests in a parking permit, they’re not just investing in a parking spot, they’re investing in their safety. They’re trusting UMKC police with their lives and vehicles. Some incidents are inevitable, but with campus being “continually patrolled 24/7” there should be less crimes.

We know even students who purchase a permit are forced to park off campus because we outnumber faculty/staff by at least 14,000. The majority of parking areas are either shared, or solely dedicated to employees.

Until this interview, I never knew that campus police had a program to escorts students to their car upon request. This program needs more publicity so students can never live in fear of if they’re going to make it to their car alive or unharmed.

Since daylight savings time (Nov. 5) and my off-campus parking experience, I’ve never seen campus police patrol immediate adjacent areas in the evenings.

We appreciate UMKC police and their service. As students, we just want our voices to be heard. If we’re going to buy a parking permit for $135, there should be more safety procedures in place that protects us and our property. If we’re not going to buy one, we still have a right to be kept safe.

If you want to know how to be more safe on campus or if you feel endangered on campus or in immediate areas, contact UMKC police at (816) 235-1515 or visit http://www.umkc.edu/finadmin/police/default.asp

Stay tuned next week for the final story of our student parking series.

mtjgxb@mail.umkc.edu

(Photo credit: University of Missouri-Kansas City)

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