Campus Launches Security Campaign
New Safety Measures Include Policing, Lighting, Escorts
By Janet Gilmore, Public Affairs
The campaign includes deploying additional campus police officers to the south side, expanding escort services, improving lighting and installing additional emergency telephones in the area.
Expected to cost more than $350,000, the campaign was approved by Chancellor Berdahl.
Preliminary figures show that robberies in the south campus area increased by 59 percent in 1998 when compared to 1997, and by 115 percent when compared to 1996. These increases occurred despite a decline in violent crime in the city of Berkeley as a whole.
"Safety is a primary concern for our neighbors on the south side of our campus as well as for the students who reside there," said Berdahl. "We are taking a number of steps that, in partnership with the city of Berkeley, will make the area a safer place."
The campaign's new measures include:
Harrison said a major source of the crime on the south side is People's Park, where criminal activity, including violent crime and drug dealing, increased in 1998 over previous years. Last year there were four robberies, two attempted rapes and two aggravated assaults at the park. Violent crimes in People's Park accounted for slightly more than 25 percent of all violent crimes reported to campus police.
The free clothing box at the park has been identified by police, neighbors and park users as a source of illegal drug activity. Individuals gather around the box to conduct drug-dealing transactions and some sell the donated clothing to area shops -- using the proceeds to fund their drug or alcohol habits.
The campus recently received a letter from a group called Safe Streets Now, which represents local residents and merchants, demanding that the campus take immediate steps to end drug dealing in the park. The campus plans to remove the free box in the near future, while supporting better alternatives to distribute clothing to the homeless and needy.
Irene Hegarty, director of campus's Community Relations unit, suggested that individuals who want to help the homeless donate clothing to the "barrel" program run by the Ecumenical Chaplaincy to the Homeless, with collection points at several local churches.
Campus officials have created a flier listing alternative methods to help the homeless, and have posted copies in People's Park.