Concern over on-campus robberies to be addressed by ASUC Senate

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After a string of on-campus crimes, the ASUC Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that plans to tackle the growing safety concerns on campus through a series of preventive measures.

The bill, SB 38, urges ASUC President DeeJay Pepito and External Affairs Vice President Safeena Mecklai to collaborate with UCPD by issuing a formal statement to the Berkeley community addressing crime on campus over the last few months.

SB 38 cites increased pedestrian robberies in Berkeley, in particular the theft of iPhones, as one of the reasons students have safety concerns and calls into question the efficacy of UCPD.

In the city of Berkeley, robberies targeting people with iPhones, smartphones and similar devices increased by 67 percent from 2012, according to the 2013 Mid-Year Crime Report presented to Berkeley City Council on Sept. 17.

One of the major goals of the bill is to recognize the positive work UCPD does, said Student Action Senator Karen Lee, who authored the bill. UCPD and the ASUC Senate will work together to set attainable goals for UCPD on a yearly basis so the campus community can see what effect UCPD has on campus safety, Lee said.

“UCPD has been doing their job to the best of their ability, but with this precedent, we’ll have a bill every semester to set goals for UCPD to show how much work they do every year,” Lee said.

These campus safety concerns have not gone unnoticed. UCPD, Night Safety Services and Ron Coley, associate vice chancellor for business and administrative services, have recently implemented new methods in hopes of curbing crime rates on campus.

UCPD had already begun addressing safety concerns by reassigning officers with flexible schedules to crime-trending areas, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore. UCPD is also collaborating with Berkeley Police Department to staff a joint Robbery Suppression Unit that patrols high-crime areas from Thursdays through Sundays.

Coley, who oversees UCPD, has addressed several safety issues through improved night safety services, such as expanding hours for the night safety shuttle and the door-to-door shuttle service.

“We are getting very focused — it’s not out of control yet, but (crime is) not going in the right direction,” Coley said.

One of the obstacles in improving night safety on campus is being able to inform students of the new and expanded services, Coley said. To increase awareness, Night Safety Services held an event Thursday at UC Berkeley’s Recreational Sports Facility, handing out flashlights and fliers to attendees.

“That was the goal of today’s event: to get the word out,” said Michael Neuwald, director of the RSF. “With it being Halloween Thursday and Daylight Savings on Sunday, we figured what better way to talk about safety than with a flashlight that has the Night Safety website on it.”

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks has also been monitoring safety concerns on campus, said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

“The safety of all members of the campus community is something that is very important to him,” Mogulof said. “He has confidence that the UCPD will do everything in its power insofar as crime is concerned. We’ll be tracking the stepped up efforts in this regard.”

Contact Jose Hernandez [email protected]