Captain James Northington and Officer Simone Evans of the Indiana University Police Department (IUPD) at IUPUI spoke with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) on Friday about safety on campus, taking any questions presented by the student senators.
Question: What initiatives are you currently working on to increase student safety?
Northington: “Right now we’re in process of implementing a new patrol strategy. We will be stationing security officers in buildings for extended periods of time and adding walking patrols or beats. This portion of campus with the library and some other buildings is known as the academic circuit, and with this patrol strategy we are looking at what time student classes start and end, and placing security officers in buildings with the most population at those time periods.
There are a lot of homeless individuals, and a lot of theft that occurs in buildings when people leave their cell phone or laptops out while they go to the bathroom, and then their stuff comes up missing. We are looking at the time and locations that theft occurs and we will work on placing officers in those locations at those times.”
Evans: “We are also working on a traffic safety initiative, looking to place patrol cars out at certain times, and including more educational operations, including a distracted driver campaign.”
Question: Will IUPD collaborate with the Purdue police department once the university splits to maintain safety on campus?
Northington: “We are, there are a lot of ancillary services that the university provides for those students. Housing is going to be developed down Indiana Avenue, and we will provide some security services for that. They will have their own residential housing and RAs of course, but as far as ground, dining, and auxiliary services, we will help with that.”
Evans: We also have so many other things available to help keep students safe on campus, like self-defense and active aggressor training. We also have the Rave Guardian app, which you can use to report on things anonymously, among other features.
Question: Are there plans to improve nighttime safety on campus?
Evans: “So the police department is 24/7, there are always officers here, we try to be out and about as much as we can.”
Northington: “And our patrol plan will encompass both day and nighttime. The plan is data-driven, based solely on when things occur and how we can mitigate those things from happening, so we also need you guys to tell us what we can do. What do you see that we can do that would be beneficial?”
Question: Would you be able to lock the doors of buildings after full time hours are over?
Evans: “The biggest thing that I see from my level, and unfortunately the police department doesn’t control this, is that every building has different business hours, and that is all pretty much computerized. The only way to change that would be to go through that specific building coordinator.”
Northington: “We do know when each building locks, we are just not responsible for it.”
Question: Recently there was a debate on campus carry in the IU Maurer School of Law, and one of the debaters implied there were no security measures in place to enforce a ban on students concealed carrying firearms. Is that the case at IUPUI?
Evans: “Well, if they are found out it could be punishable by termination if they are an employee and suspension if they are a student… If an individual with a firearm refuses to leave campus after being asked, it could result in a trespassing violation.”
Northington: “Because of the gravity of carrying a weapon on campus, it is not permitted. Should a student be carrying a weapon, and they are approached by us, we will take action, and give you a verbal trespass immediately.”
Question: How often do you check the blue light emergency towers?
Evans: “We check them monthly.”
Question: A lot of women feel unsafe on campus, and I have heard that many student’s first response when they feel unsafe is to call their friends rather than IUPD. What can be done about that?
Evans: “A lot of that is dependent on students. We live in a downtown area, it’s never going to be crime free, but most of what we see is property crime…”
Question: How is IUPD trying to decrease sexual assault on campus?
Northington: “We do have a pretty robust program in regards to sexual assault. The university takes sexual assault very seriously. If you see something, say something. If ever there is any issue with you or one of your friends 24/7 we have somebody that can take that call.”
Evans: “I have been an officer here for ten years, I can think of one or two examples of sexual assault where it has been a stranger. Usually it is a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Just be very careful when you go out. Don’t leave your friends, if you get drunk, have a chaperone or someone who still has their wits about them.”
Question: In regards to the weapons policy, will we get in trouble if we use a weapon to defend ourselves from a crime?
Evans: “We are probably not going to be concerned about that at that point. I can’t say that no one will follow up with you, that’s a policy thing anyways. It is probably not going to be the police department, it’s going to be someone with the university.”
[The Collegiate Commons clarified with one of the officers that pepper spray is not considered a weapon under the updated Indiana University weapons policy]
Question: What is your latest data on response time to calls on campus?
Evans: “Campus is small so we are usually there within a few minutes.”
Question: Roughly how many officers do you have on shift at a time?
Evans: “There are five officers today, two sergeants, then all of our administrative staff as well. That includes the lieutenant, captain, chief, etc.”
Northington: “Like police departments across the country, we are struggling with recruitment right now. We do have a cadet program though, and are accepting applications. The cadet program will introduce you to working side-by-side with an officer doing building security, foot patrols, report writing, ride-alongs, buildings patrols, and more, and there is no obligation to serve after you finish.
Question: What is the time commitment for that role?
Northington: “You’re not allowed to go over 20 hours, but ultimately outside of that it is based on what your school schedule allows. We will work around your schedule.”
Question: Are there limitations on political advocacy that you can do while in that role?
Northington: “Yes. We do have to do an annual statement on political advocacy. It is an annual disclosure on everyone employed by the police department, and convey any political affiliation, lobbying work, research with university, etc. There is a statement that you will sign on the parameters of that.”