Community officials speak at Public Safety Townhall


Amber Stoutenborough

Community officials from Chicago Police Department, Chicago Transit Authority and DePaul Public Safety were panelists at the town hall hosted by SGA.

DePaul students raised concerns about campus safety in the first Student Government Association Public Safety Townhall in over a year.

Questions had to be submitted before the event via Google form.

Public figures including Ald. Michele Smith, and representatives from CTA and CPD responded to student concerns about crimes on campus and public transportation at the Student Government Association’s Public Safety Townhall on Tuesday, March 1.

Speakers included. Smith (43rd), Jon Hein, 18th district Chicago Police Department Commander, Kevin Ryan, vice president of security Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA), and DePaul Public Safety Director Robert Wachowski discussed their efforts to keep students safe both on and off campus. Students submitted questions beforehand about the Jackson Red Line stop, commuting in the evening and recent crime on campus.

“We have seen an uptick in robbery in our community this past year,” Smith said. “Typically, late at night, when the bars close, there’s always been [crimes] that happen.”

Lincoln Park and Lakeview armed robberies are up from 149 in 2020 to 217 in 2021, according to Block Club Chicago.

Smith also included the rise in hate crimes in Chicago against Asian Americans and Jewish people.

“This has been a pretty big year for that right and so we stand with our Asian neighbors,” Smith said. “There’s also been an incredible rise of anti-semitism in other ‘isms.’ I’m grateful that we have units that can concentrate on this, and they move on to the political system completely support all these efforts to to defend the rights of Asian Americans and Muslim Americans.”

Kellen Brown, vice president of operations  and Lenin Plazas senator of commuter students,  organized the event.

DePaul commuter students can use the Brown or Red Line at the Fullerton station to commute from Lincoln Park to the Loop campus.

Students were concerned about the Jackson Red Line stop and how DePaul and the city were monitoring crime at the subway station. The recent uptick of crime on the CTA, with 45 of these crimes being either at the Fullerton or Jackson stops, according to past reporting.

“Jackson, I can tell you, will remain a priority,” Ryan said. “It’s not just DePaul students, we’ve seen other issues at Jackson.”

Due to the concern from students, Ryan said CPD will monitor the Fullerton stop overnight. Meanwhile, the Jackson stop is being monitored by CPD 24/7, with security personnel and officers riding the red line at night between the Jackson and Fullerton stops, according to Ryan.

SGA senators and students had the opportunity to ask Wachowski questions towards the end after other panelists left. Students wanted to see if DePaul could invest in private shuttle buses fromLincoln Park to the Loop.

“I don’t have the resources,” Wachowski said in response to that request.

Students submitted questions about the lack of mileage at the annual finals week Vinny Vans, which offer free rides home to students who live two miles or less from campus. Wachowski said he would work with SGA on possibly expanding the boundaries.

Other concerns included more transparency about safety alerts after a gun was brought to the Daley building and students were  uninformed.

SGA announced that they wanted to make public safety town halls a regular occurrence, as this was the first one in a year.