Crime declining after police efforts

By Drew Teague

With the rise of crime on UK’s campus last semester, students began to get worried it would become a trend, but crime has slowed down on campus and in Lexington.

Students bought pepper spray and began to use the SAFECATS, Safe And Free Escort for Campus Area Traveling Students, more often than normal, prompting the idea of another golf cart for the program.

UK Police Chief Joe Monroe said no progress has been made from the robberies that occurred between Sept. 14 and Sept. 23 of last year.

“There are no new updates on those [crimes] that occurred back in the fall semester,” Monroe said. “Everything seemed to have either declined or stopped after the new efforts we put in place.”

Monroe said that UK’s crime reflected the rise that occurred with the city of Lexington, but both have slowed.

“At that time, if you look, the crime for the whole city was going on and seeing a rise,” Monroe said. “Right now we aren’t seeing anything on campus and the city has slowed back down.”

With the slowing of such crimes on campus the extra patrols have gone, but those regularly working are keeping an eye on the areas where crimes are likely to occur.

“We don’t have any extra officers out,” Monroe said. “We’re back to our normal staffing, but they are still paying close attention to these hot spots, as well as any areas that may be a concern.”

The false UK alert from Jan. 14 was from the initial explanation from the victim, a robbery and assault. After further investigation, police found the medicine the victim claimed to have had stolen and found the injuries from his face were from an earlier incident, not on campus.

The person was reported missing to the city police earlier that morning, Monroe said.

Monroe said the incorrect UK Alert went out because the officers initially believed there to be a threat to students.

“If [officers] feel it is an immediate threat, they will go on and issue the UK Alert out, for safety,” Monroe said.

Monroe said he got called from several parents about the incident on Jan. 14, and he returned their calls and explained the situation to the thankful parents.

Some students are still worried about their safety around campus, while others have never been worried, like Elisa Underwood, a business management sophomore.

“I didn’t feel unsafe even when the robberies were happening,” Underwood said. “I’m not really alarmed [when I get a UK Alert]. If I got it while I was walking out at night by myself then I would be like OK, there’s someone there.”

Christina Nguyen, a psychology/pre-med freshman, got worried when the robberies began, but has lessened her worries because of several factors.

“When I first got here and heard [about] all the robberies, I didn’t feel safe at all,” Nguyen said. “It wasn’t until I got my pepper spray, now I feel safe, because I got myself pepper spray.”

Bonnie Lewis, a history freshman, usually feels safe on campus, even after the robberies, because she has taken some of the advice officials have given after the robberies.

“I feel safe generally, it’s just when I’m in K Lot by myself that I get scared, but I have my pepper spray,” Bonnie Lewis said. “I’ve had friends who have been followed on campus before.”

Bonnie Lewis’ friend, Ashley Lewis, was the one being followed, where she and a friend got frightened after being followed at night into a building and down several halls.

“There was a time when my roommate and I were walking to south campus from north campus. We saw these guys on north campus and we saw them again on south campus,” Ashley Lewis said. “They crossed the street when we came, and my roommate kind of freaked out. We went in this building and they followed us in there and down a couple of hall ways.”

Ashley Lewis said that she feels safe on campus, but less than she did before the robberies occurred.

Monroe said he will hold another community forum for students, faculty, staff and others to attend and give UKPD feedback.

He is also looking forward to doing a report card where those on campus can fill out and rate the UKPD, letting them know what they would like to see more of and what they are already doing good with.

SAFECATS is available until 1:30 a.m. and can be reached at 257-SAFE. After that, you can call UKPD via cell phone at #UKPD.