Campus safety is community concern

February 26, 2009 | UToday
By Kim Goodin

As an institution that strives to be open to its community, UT sometimes walks a fine line between accessible and vulnerable.

Calling attention to this delicate balance was last month’s arrest of a man who resided intermittently in the North Engineering Building on Main Campus.

The UT Police Department arrested the man after responding to a tip.

“In our environment, we generally start the day early and stay open late to accommodate our students, faculty members and others in our community,” Chief of Police Jeff Newton said. “It’s important that we not depend just on security personnel. We all need to be aware of activities and people around us.”

Newton encourages students, faculty and staff to contact the Police Department if suspicious activity is observed.

“What is suspicious activity? That’s a good question,” Newton said. “A general rule of thumb is if you don’t feel comfortable with behaviors you see, whether it’s someone trying to access a restricted area or something that seems out of place, call the police at 419.530.2600.”

At times, Newton said, UT’s buildings are used for shelter. When apprised of these situations, officers make contact with the person in question, run a background check for warrants or arrests, then transport him or her to a shelter, if appropriate.

Several guidelines for staying informed and alert are posted on UT’s Web site at

As with the arrest in the North Engineering Building, Newton said tipsters are important to keeping UT secure.

“We checked the man’s location the night before his arrest,” Newton noted. “We didn’t find him at that time, so we went again the next morning.

“The best security plans rely on community involvement,” he continued. “If we don’t take basic measures, such as keeping doors secure, reporting suspicious activities and being aware of people around us, it hampers the effectiveness. We all need to take responsibility.”

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