DePaul Public Safety leaves old policies, procedures in place after summer crime incidents in Lincoln Park, Loop

A stabbing of a recent graduate. A fatal stabbing on the Red Line near Wintrust Arena. A series of robberies on CTA trains in the Loop. A series of sexual assaults in Lincoln Park.

Those are just a few of the crimes that have occurred near DePaul’s Lincoln Park and Loop campuses in recent months. A DePaulia analysis of crime statistics from the Chicago Data Portal found that crime has significantly increased in Lincoln Park and about doubled in the Loop, but DePaul Public Safety hasn’t changed its methods for handling incidents.

Instead of having its own sworn, armed police force, DePaul relies on a close partnership with the Chicago Police Department.

When Public Safety receives notice of a crime incident on campus, one of the DePaul’s officers will respond, call the Chicago Police Department if necessary and call medical if necessary. After those priorities are met, officers will take a report, and then turn the case over Public Safety’s full-time investigator, DePaul Public Safety Director Robert Wachowski said.

How much involvement officers will have can depend on the victim of a particular crime, however.

“We can’t force the individual [to make a police report],” Wachowski said. “It’s up to the person making the report to do that.”

Training for Public Safety officers includes a 20-hour state certificate, ongoing in-service training, CPR and an annual training on a different topic, such as procedural justice or mental health.

Wachowski said the department has a “very good working relationship” and “constant communication” with Chicago police, including by being on the same radio frequency and holding regular meetings together.

In a July 18 incident where a recent DePaul graduate was slashed in the face and neck near the music school buildings in Lincoln Park, Public Safety worked with Chicago police to provide extra patrols in the area.

“Patrols were increased in the neighborhood and we have been in contact with university authorities,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told The DePaulia last month.

He did not elaborate on how long the extra security presence was around, and it was not clear how many extra patrols there were after the incident compared to before.

A suspect in the slashing incident, 32-year-old Adam Bramwell, was charged with the crime Thursday. He was arrested Aug. 9 in Texas on charges related to a July 13 carjacking and battery of a woman on Fremont Street, who escaped with a minor injury. Bramwell is now being charged with the 3 a.m. attack on the DePaul student as well, according to a community newsletter from 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith.

Wachowski would not comment on the number of Public Safety patrols out at any given time, or on any specific crime, but told The DePaulia that the number of extra patrols depends on the situation. The patrols can be undercover officers, so members of the community would not even notice them in those cases, and the length of time they’re out also varies.

“It can be as short as a day,” Wachowski said. “If it’s a pattern, they’ll stay in place.”

Some students worry about their safety after the July 18 attack.

Candace Bell-Hayes said she would feel safer on and around campus if there were more emergency phones and cameras around. Though she lives in the suburbs, she is around campus often enough to be concerned, she said.

“I thought [the attack] was shocking,” she said after the attack. “Nowadays, you should never walk alone unless it’s broad daylight.”

Wachowski said the university has about 1,200 cameras.

DePaul is one of the few universities in the state that does not have its own armed police department.

The University of Chicago in Hyde Park has a Department of Safety & Security that serves as a full-service, accredited police department for the university and its surrounding areas. Northwestern University in Evanston also has “the same enforcement powers and responsibilities as municipal police officers and county sheriffs,” according to the university’s website.

DePaul Public Safety has power to detain – but not arrest – individuals who may be a threat, and none of its officers are armed.

Still, Wachowski said that there currently isn’t a need for armed officers because of the department’s relationship with the Chicago Police Department.

“The current system is working,” he said.

However, Robert Stokes, an associate professor in the School of Public Service at DePaul, pointed out that having focused patrol areas makes full-service campus police departments more effective.

“I would say that out of all the universities I’ve been at, DePaul has the lowest security investment,” Stokes said. “They’ve been able to get away with it because of the locations of the campuses and the relationship with the police department.”

Stokes, who used to be a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said that Drexel used to work with Philadelphia police, but ultimately decided to invest in its own police department. When working with Philadelphia police, the university ran into situations in which police would have to leave for crime scenes away from the area.

A dedicated, sworn and armed police department could focus entirely on a campus and its nearby areas and respond faster than Chicago police, he said.

It’s likely because of a lack of resources that DePaul doesn’t make the change, as this is the main reason Public Safety does not serve more than one block past each of the boundaries of the campus.

Wachowski said he has a limited staff of about 80 total between both the Lincoln Park and the Loop campuses, and that his responsibility is “to the campus itself.”

An expansion of the boundaries that Public Safety serves within would be a discussion of university policy, he said.

Stokes said it would take a lot for the university to put together the resources for a campus police department.

“Something heart wrenching would have to happen, or if people stopped coming to DePaul because of [crime],” Stokes said.

There are also other challenges, such as having a split campus, which would make it hard to determine what the police’s jurisdiction should be, he said.

DePaul Public Safety sends out alerts, which should reach all DePaul students, faculty and staff by phone and email, for major incidents, such as robberies, sexual assaults and threats that occur on campus. No alert is sent out when there is no longer a threat, Wachowski said.

For incidents not serious enough for a public safety alert, but still pervasive issues on campus, such as thefts, the department will send out emails and post notices on doors.

Wachowski emphasized the importance of students having what he called a personal plan for emergencies, and reporting anything suspicious.

“If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t,” he said.