Chief Michael Newton gave a report to the Board of Regents during their meeting last week on the ways his department has addressed safety issues since the death of 22-year-old Celia Barquin Arozamena September 17th. He says one of the changes involved adding more time for the Safe Ride Program. Newton says the program was on a 9 p.m. to 5:30 A.M. schedule and after the death of Arozamena they got a lot of requests to bump the hours back to 6 a.m. He says they were able to find the funding to add that time to the program.
Newton says they also have been able to add extra safety training for students. “We have a full time unit dedicated to educational efforts. After the death of Celia we saw a huge increase and spike for self defense training, we do a plethora of training,” Newton says. “It’s a really small unit, it was one full time person, it’s now two. Through a partnership this year with the senior vice president of international students and others, we were able to receive funding to fund a full time person who is working strictly with minority students and international students so that we can bridge that gap.”
A man who was reportedly homeless and living in a camp near the golf course where Arozamena was playing is accused of stabbing her to death. Newton says they have continued their efforts to work with the homeless around campus. “We were proactive in this area — we were out moving homeless encampments off campus — we were trying to get folks help, we were partnering with our emergency housing project. We had officers dedicated to that effort. Right after this homicide our partners in the city reached out to us to see kind of how we were doing things. They weren’t taking as proactive an approach, so we started to build that partnerships a little bit differently,” Newton says. He says they continually survey lighting on campus and try to be sure areas are well lit. And they try to keep a high-profile themselves.
“Regularly we are reassigning officers to bike and foot patrol. We’re trying to be more visible on campus, trying to be there so folks can see us,” according to Newton.”It’s hard though…there’s 40 of us. So to see us isn’t always a thing that happens for students faculty and staff.” Newton says they are working on a program called “CyWath”, which is a neighborhood watch type of program for the dorms.
“We’re partnering with our department of residence on this project. They’re helping us craft it and mold it and we are going to pilot it in some of the residence halls and see kind of where that goes for us over the next year,” Newton explains.
Newton says they continue working on upgrading the security cameras and coverage on campus and are also working on an app that would allow students to have a guardian walk them home at night.