Safety's the question

This year, Mercyhurst College has had several reported crimes on and around campus that have stirred fear on campus.

In November, two male freshman hockey players were charged by Erie Police with sexual assault.

In December, a female student was nearly abducted on the corner of East 38th Street and Pine Avenue. The man had a knife and approached her as she was walking to her apartment; however, the female escaped.

A similar incident happened months later, and eventually the man was apprehended.

Other reports during the year included assault and theft.

In April, a student was attacked walking on East 38th Street. The suspect stole the student’s wallet and fled, but not without injuring the student.

These incidents have made students think about their safety.

“In response to recent events concerning the safety of Mercyhurst students, innovative security measures should be developed that inspires nationwide campus security standards,” said junior Anthony Corso said. “This is a good opportunity to put Mercyhurst on the map and express a concern for the well-being of students.”

These incidents could point to an increase in crime in the campus area, but Lieutenant of Police and Safety Matthew Platz has different thoughts.

“I’ve been here for eight years and I don’t think there is an increase of incidents around campus. Incidents do occur, but most crimes are just usually unreported. There is just an increase in reported crimes,” Platz said.

In order to avoid these situations, Police and Safety recommends walking in pairs or even more than two. It’s always safer with higher numbers. If students think they may be in danger, they can always call Police and Safety for an escort.

Even if students are underage and intoxicated, they will not receive punishment for requesting an escort. Safety is the number one concern, and at most, the student may receive a lecture about responsible drinking.

Police and Safety officers are doing all they can to prevent these incidents. They plan to communicate with students, especially the freshman class, and promote the escort service for next year. The system has been used a few times this year, but it is hoped that increasing the service will decrease the crimes.

The blue light service is also available to help students. Students in a dangerous situation can quickly press the blue light button, and Police and Safety will immediately swarm the area to help. The lights are frequently tested so they should always be operational.

As far as further precautions to be taken for next year, more cameras will be installed around campus.

“The increase in cameras could have been helpful to get the plate number of the man who tried to abduct the girl earlier in the year. The cameras will be positioned at all the exits around campus,” Platz said.

Campus is also on patrol with at least four officers at all times, which is considered a suitable number for the campus size.

“The chief of Police and Safety means well, and I can tell he takes his job seriously. I just think the people who work for him are not as committed to their work,” junior Mark Matash said.

Next year a possible launch of a program used in previous years called the Crime Prevention Program may be reinstated. This program spoke to freshmen about ways to prevent crime.

Students have the option of filling out forms of their valuables, including serial numbers of electronics if their belongings were ever stolen. Paperwork for this service can be found online or at the Police and Safety office.

Several announcements released from Police and Safety are on the portal to keep students aware.

“Communication is the big thing; we try to do it in as many ways as we can,” Platz said.

Student safety in their own apartments has also come into question, as the basement apartments are easily accessible from the ground floor.

“I feel pretty safe in my apartment. I’ve never had an intruder problem and have never really been concerned,” sophomore Cassie Seligman said.

“I have issues with broken sinks and toilets, but as far as the rest of my apartment goes, I feel like it’s secure and pretty safe,” sophomore Ryan Fragapane said.

Students should know the number of Police and Safety at all times in case of an emergency.

Police and Safety can be reached at extension 2304.