Walking (or jogging) in a winter wonderland? Be safe!
Ease of access is one of the hallmarks of education at The University of Iowa. Faculty members pride themselves on leaving their office doors open to students. Staff members enjoy the trust they feel for those who move in and out of their departments. But at the same time that easy access makes it possible for people to move freely around campus, it provides one of the greatest challenges for the UI public safety officers.
"Criminals from the outside see the University as an easy target," says Brad Allison, crime prevention officer for the UIs Department of Public Safety.
He gives the example of a faculty members office door with a note on it saying "Im in Chicago and I wont be back until the 5th."
"Anyone walking through the building can read it, and if someone sees the message and breaks in on the 1st, it will be four days before the break-in is reported," Allison says. "By then its really hard to catch the criminal."
In August, Allison joined 23 officers from university and college public safety departments around the country for the 1999 Campus Crime Prevention Seminar, a two-week training session held in Louisville, Ky.
The session fueled Allisons interest in preventing crimes by altering physical features of the campus, and to that end he has been working with Larry Wilson, campus planner.
"Im interested in creating safety through environmental design," Allison says. He is conducting a foliage survey based on a past lighting survey and is concerned that some heavily planted areas, though well lit, provide hiding places for potential criminals. He also would like to provide input in future landscaping projects, for example, encouraging low plantings near sidewalks.
A key part of crime prevention is education, and Allison offers numerous sessions, ranging from alcohol risk management for students in dorms, fraternities, and sororities, to a staff development course on detecting counterfeit money, to offering personal safety and self-protection courses for programs and offices that request them.
"This kind of education can cut the workload for patrol officers," says Allison, who is hoping his position becomes full time in the future. He and Chuck Green, director of public safety, also work with building designers during the planning phases of new University structures, providing suggestions for incorporating safety features in the design and construction phases.
Allison encourages all departments, whether in old or new buildings, to take advantage of security auditssurveys Allison conducts of working habits, lighting, access, and layoutand the emergency protocols he writes based on the findings.
To take part in a security audit, or to request safety training sessions, contact Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org or (33)5-5043.
by Linzee Kull McCray