The Duke University Police Department is committed to making campus safe for all University’s students, Police Major Sara-Jane Raines affirmed at the meeting of the Graduate and Professional Student Council general assembly Tuesday night.
In light of a perceived increase in crime on campus, Raines presented the crime statistics for the 2012-13 academic year. She outlined ways in which the students can take precautions to ensure a safer campus.
“I think the best thing we can do—besides making people feel safe—is to actually make them safer,” Raines said. “Preventing crime is actually better than just making them feel safe.”
Theft is one of the biggest problems on campus, Raines said. She noted that iPhones and laptops are the most commonly stolen items because they provide the thief with quick money. ATM-like machines that accept iPhones in exchange for cash are conveniently located at many local malls. She noted that DUPD and Durham police collaborated to have the machines removed from Northgate Mall, but that they are still available at The Streets at Southpoint and Crabtree Valley Mall.
The majority of aggravated assaults that are committed on campus occur between undergraduates, Raines said, adding that the altercations usually result from alcohol consumption.
“Most of our motor vehicle thefts on campus are scooters—there is a really big national trend on university scooter thefts, and unfortunately we are a part of that,” Raines said.
Many bikes are stolen each year from Duke’s campus, Raines said.
“It is unfortunate that the police department has very little say in the placement of the bike racks because they are very poorly placed,” she said.
Because the University is focused on maintaining aesthetic appeal, many of the racks are placed in areas that are not on main commuter paths, Raines said.
“Beautification means racks hidden from sight,” she noted.
Raines said that there is a significantly increased police presence on campus. She outlined how officers are strategically placed around campus—for example, at bus stops so they can walk with students who feel unsafe.
She added that there is more police presence in areas that are “less well-lit or scary for other reasons.”
The University is working on replacing old light bulbs with new LED bulbs.
“They are creepy looking,” Raines said referencing the old bulbs. “There is a lot of stuff to know about lighting.”
The old light bulbs distort the ability to see accurate colors, she added. The blue lights on top of the help phones were difficult to see in the old lighting.
Although she did not give specific details, Raines said that when a student picks up a help phone, there should be a police response within four minutes. She noted, however, that there are potential complications to this process, citing the major on-campus road closures this summer.
“They didn’t tell us before they closed those roads,” Raines said.
In other business:
The General Assembly approved group and event funding for the Fall semester.
Treasurer Eden Ellis, a second year Fuqua student, said that many groups did not receive the total funding that they requested.
The average group received $300, or 36 percent of the total they requested.
Groups are most likely to be funded if they serve the community, are open to the public and promote culture, Ellis said.
University Affairs Coordinator Shanna Lehrman, a second year law student, reminded the general assembly that every representative must serve on a committee.
Because there are more representatives this year than ever before, many representatives will be limited to participation in one committee, Lehrman said.
Attorney General Brad Hover, a fifth year biochemistry PhD candidate, led the selection of the Young Trustee Screening Committee.
The seven-member committee was selected by unanimous consent.