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Initiatives focus on student safety

University Police are working with other local agencies to ensure the safety of Binghamton students and to improve training for officers on campus and in the community.

Police Chief John Schwartz said his agency now tracks offcampus cases involving students. University Police also recently joined with officers from the Binghamton Police Bureau to visit students who live off campus. They distributed brochures featuring safety tips useful when walking, driving, riding public transportation and at home.

Schwartz, who delivered his annual report to the University Council on Friday, said a renewed focus on pedestrian safety and a rash of criminal mischief resulted in a 7.6 percent rise in criminal incidents on campus in 2005.

The 1,108 reports included fewer larcenies and burglaries than the year before, very few cases of sexual assault and no change in the number of drug cases. A total of 214 people were arrested during the year.

Increased traffic enforcement, designed to make conditions safer for pedestrians, resulted in twice the previous year’s misdemeanor vehicle and traffic charges. The 104 charges included those filed against unlicensed and uninsured drivers.

“We really created this increase because of our concern for pedestrian safety,” Schwartz noted.

He said there are now 62 blue light phones that allow people on campus to report problems directly to police. More will be added at the Innovative Technologies Complex and the new downtown center.

The council’s focus on personal safety also included a discussion of alcohol education.

Rodger Summers, vice president for student affairs, said the University has had such success with AlcoholEdu that he was recently invited to speak at a national program with officials from three larger colleges.

AlcoholEdu, a two- to threehour online course, educates college students about alcohol and its effects. Binghamton is the only State University of New York campus that has made the program mandatory for freshmen.

About 95 percent of firstyear students completed the course last semester, Summers said. He expects nearly 2,200 to finish it by the end of this semester.

More than half of those who completed the course said they found it interesting and helpful. Summers said the University wants to provide information that will enable students to make informed decisions about drinking.

“Safety,” Summers said, “is a priority that we will always put forward in regard to our students.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08