Public Safety falls short, students ask for more services

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Check out these courses at go.depaul.edu/snlsummer

Check out these courses at go.depaul.edu/snlsummer

Pierce Horvath was a victim of an armed robbery in January.

Around 2:30 p.m., after returning to his car to get his art portfolio, Horvath was approached by a man with one of his hands in his hoodie pocket. The man pulled out a pistol while demanding Horvath to get down and give him everything he had.

Horvath lost his phone and his wallet in the armed robbery.

“Naturally, I cooperated and gave him my phone and wallet. No material item is worth a life,” Horvath said. “Once he grabbed those two things, he bolted down Montana Street towards the L station. After, I ran into the fine arts building and luckily found a Public Safety officer who helped me through the process of contacting the police and other necessary documentation.”

After Horvath’s experience, he thinks more can be done by Public Safety to benefit the student body.

“I think that Public Safety should disclose more information regarding the description of these criminals, that way students know who to look for and whether or not they should report someone looking mysterious,” Horvath said. “I can almost guarantee that if Public Safety released descriptions of these people, there would be less open-ended crimes that us students have to concern ourselves with.”

Attending university in Chicago does not exclude students from the violence that plagues the city. DePaul’s student body continues to be exposed to different environments that can potentially pose multiple threats. Public safety must tighten its programs in order to offer maximum security on both Loop and the Lincoln Park campuses.

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(Graphic by Victoria Williamson / The DePaulia)

It is commonplace for DePaul students to receive emails warning of multiple crimes that have taken place on or near the Lincoln Park and Loop campuses. These crimes tend to range from stolen belongings to criminal sexual assault and armed robbery. As these emails continue, DePaul students should question whether or not they are actually protected by Public Safety.

From Jan. 18 to March 27, there were four reported armed robberies in the Lincoln Park area. The string of serious crimes started on Jan. 16, when a DePaul student was sexually assaulted near Lincoln Park’s Fullerton stop.  In the Loop campus, reports of verbal harassment and criminal trespassing along with disturbances reports have tainted the university’s downtown campus.

DePaul’s Public Safety protects these two campuses. However, following these reports of armed robbery and criminal trespassing, one incident leading to the shooting of a DePaul student, protocol has remained the same. Changes in protocol must be implemented or crimes on both campuses will continue. More can be offered. Whether it be through email specifics, or ramping up security in the Loop campus, more can be done.

Public Safety offers five student service programs to ensure safety. The escort service, which is one of the most popular, runs from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and is a safe way for students to make it home.

However, this program falls short. To utilize the safety escort service, students are only able to contact Public Safety if they are located within the Lincoln Park area, not on the Loop campus.

Students accessing the escort service can only utilize the service from a certain time frame typically when evening classes end. But, according to Public Safety reports, armed robberies take place in broad daylight, usually between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

“It’s definitely disappointing to hear that there are not escort services in the Loop,” junior Jazz Ruiz said. “I have class sometimes until 9 p.m. and have to walk home by myself. There’s definitely a big difference in Public Safety from Lincoln Park to the Loop.”

Students have expressed dissatisfaction towards the department. Anyone can step foot into the Loop’s Student Center and cause a scene or harass students. Little to anything is being done to offer a sense of security.

Sophmore Daniel Ghisolf-Astacio has raised eyebrows over the years when it comes to Public Safety.

“Honestly, I do not have that much stock into their abilities,” Ghisolf-Astacio said. “The idea behind Public Safety is something that is comforting. However, having them around will not stop an armed robbery.”

Robert Wachowski, director of DePaul’s Public Safety department, responded to the increase of armed robberies.

“DePaul takes a proactive approach to alerting our campus community — students, faculty and staff — with email alerts and door postings when Public Safety is made aware of a crime or incident that happens on or near campus.”

Addressing criticism of Loop’s programs, Wachowski added that little can be done for the Loop campus when it comes to the Safe Escort Service.

“Unlike the Lincoln Park campus, where we have a service to escort students from campus building to campus building, in the Loop, because of limited resources, we do not provide this service.”

In regards to the recent disturbance reports, Wachowski added that there is a plan in the works between the Chicago Police Department and representatives from other downtown universities.

In response to the recent increase in armed robberies in the past couple of months, Public Safety has relatively remained the same.

While safety programs are intertwined within DePaul  — more can be done. Change in the way crime is reported can be improved. Programs can be introduced or refined. Only with change will the presence of Public Safety be felt and students will be safe.