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Dec. 3, 1999
Volume 37, No. 8

features

Walking (or jogging) in a winter wonderland? Be safe!
Coleman taps Iowa's creativity in setting and reaching objectives
Power to the people: Heating it up on campus
Fogarty scholar immersed in research
InSite: Catch a flick
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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 UI’s Department of Public Safety.

He gives the example of a faculty member’s office door with a note on it saying "I’m in Chicago and I won’t be back until the 5th."

     
Keeping safe on campus during holidays (and year round)
  • Keep valuables out of sight. Allison recommends that UI employees stash purses and other personal belongings in drawers or cabinets, and that they lock office doors when leaving. This is especially important during hours when the building is open.

  • Don’t leave notes on office doors letting passersby know that you’re out of town. Instead, leave a note telling visitors to stop at the departmental office, or other safe place, where you can leave your itinerary. Lock windows and doors before leaving.

  • Make sure computers are secure and private files are out of public areas.

  • When working in offices over the holidays, buildings will be emptier. Allison recommends paying extra attention to your surroundings and to work with your office door locked.

  • Campus joggers should run in pairs in safe, well-lighted areas and should familiarize themselves with the locations and operation of the campus emergency "blue cap" phones. Allison strongly discourages the use of headphones for joggers, saying that headphones make it difficult to hear both traffic and the sound of someone coming from behind.

  • Remember, 911 is the emergency number on campus. For routine calls to the Department of Public Safety, call (33)5-5022.

  
       

"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 it’s 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 Allison’s interest in preventing crimes by altering physical features of the campus, and to that end he has been working with Larry Wilson, campus planner.

"I’m 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 audits—surveys Allison conducts of working habits, lighting, access, and layout—and 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 brad-allison@uiowa.edu or (33)5-5043.

Article by Linzee Kull McCray


 

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