Downtown Phoenix campus showcases safety features
Students who live and learn at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus may be considered pioneers, but they won’t encounter the Wild West when it comes to safety.
Richard Wilson, ASU Police commander at the Downtown Phoenix campus, said the area offers a safe environment for students as the 2008 fall semester commences.
“There’s a higher saturation of police and private security in this area than anywhere else in the city,” Wilson said. “We spend more time fighting perception than crime in this area.”
Students will learn firsthand about the area and resources available to them on Campus Safety Day, held Sept. 4 at the University Center, 411 N. Central Ave. Hosted by The Public Safety Advisory Committee and Environmental Health and Safety, the event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes educational booths, visual aides and hand-out information.
“The administration of the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus in conjunction with the city of Phoenix is committed to creating and sustaining a community environment that is safe and productive for students, faculty and all members of the community. We believe that in order to provide a safe and productive learning environment, we must partner with our students and provide them not only with a strong police and security presence on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus, but also provide opportunities for them to actively engage in the promotion of personal and community safety,” said Kimberly Novak, director for student and campus community development for the Downtown Phoenix campus.
A team of 23 ASU Police aides, eight officers and security personnel monitor the campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week. ASU Police officers also have a strong working relationship with the Phoenix Police Department and confer frequently on matters of mutual interest and concern. Three officers from the Phoenix Police Department are assigned to ASU as special liaison officers that support the campus by participating in educational programs, intentionally engaging with students in their daily routines at the campus, and by serving on campus task forces aimed at enhancing safety. These officers regularly exchange information with ASU.
The Downtown Operations Unit of Phoenix PD patrol the campus and serve as the primary policy entity. More ASU officers will be added by the end of the semester, Wilson said.
“The crime rate in this area is very low because of the amount of patrol zones and officers in the area,” said Phoenix Police Lieutenant Jeff Lazell. “In addition to our regular patrol officers, we have bike, foot and mounted patrols, parking enforcement and liaison officers that are constantly looking for suspicious activity. It’s one of the safest sections of the city.”
Members of the public and the ASU community can stay safe by taking common sense measures such as walking at night with a partner or escort, staying in lit areas and avoiding alleys.
Wilson said making the ASU Downtown campus a safe and secure place is a balancing act between police, security, merchants and students.
“There’s a balance between anxiety and complacency, which is why we host a lot of educational programs and seminars throughout the year,” Wilson said. “Crime happens in neighborhoods, shopping malls and campuses. We try to mitigate those crimes of opportunity through visibility and interaction with the community.”
Brent Alex, a journalism major who moved into Taylor Place last week, said he certainly felt comfortable in his new surroundings.
“I knew coming in that the area is safe to be around,” Alex said. “With Taylor Place security, the ASU and Phoenix Police, it’s easy for any student to see how safe DPC can be if students take their responsibilities seriously.”
In addition to ASU and Phoenix police personnel, Copper Square Ambassadors patrol the area by foot, on horseback or on bikes. Private security officers who patrol Arizona Center, Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory and the Mercado assist in monitoring the downtown Phoenix area contiguous to the campus and beyond. Campus safety escorts are also available from ASU Police aides 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Other safety and security initiatives include:
• Downtown Phoenix campus and City of Phoenix officials have worked together to develop streetscape and lighting improvements that take crime prevention into consideration.
• Emergency call boxes are located in the parking garages and surface lot at University Center and the College, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Nursing & Healthcare Innovation and Taylor Place residence hall.
• Direct-dial 911 phones are located in the lobbies of all campus buildings.
• ASU and DPS officials in conjunction with the Phoenix Police Department coordinate campus security alert distributions when appropriate.
• The DPS Crime Prevention Unit offers safety programs and events throughout the year. Women’s self defense programs will be regularly scheduled for the DPC.
• Student Affairs at ASU has developed a proactive risk-management program that is fully integrated into its operations. Student Affairs staff monitor and evaluate programs, systems, protocols and practices for potential or perceived risks and take corrective action to mitigate those risks.
• Taylor Place residence hall staff have been be trained by police officials, Environmental Health and Safety staff and Student Affairs staff in facility safety, emergency response and strategies for educating residents about personal safety.
• Taylor Place is equipped with 24-hour security, approximately 70 video surveillance cameras and an electronic access system to gain entrance to the 13-story residence hall after 7 p.m. and on weekends.