Forum offers safety advice

By Becca Clemons

After five robberies in a two week span, UK Police sought public insight.

Student Government and UK Police  hosted a forum for members of the UK community Thursday night in the Worsham Theater to discuss what the two organizations are doing to address campus safety.

“One of the things we try to do is get an open line of communication and hear the concerns of the students, faculty and staff,” UK Police Chief Joe Monroe said.

The forum was open to everyone in the UK community, especially those who had questions about safety. This is the second such forum; the first was held last semester.

Monroe said the forum was a chance for the UK community to address rumors that have been spreading around campus lately because of recent robberies.

“A recent rash of crimes has focused a lot of attention on this campus,” he said. “Nationally, crime has gone up on college campuses. We are not unique.

“UK remains one of the safest campuses in the country and will. We strive to provide quality communication and awareness programs.”

SG President Ryan Smith and Monroe discussed the SAFECATS program run in collaboration between UK Police, SG and ROTC. A Sept. 28 Kernel article reported that SAFECATS has seen increased usage in the last couple weeks since robberies were reported on campus.

A new golf cart for the service has been ordered and should be in operation next week, Monroe said.

Smith said a campus safety walk to identify high risk areas is a way to improve safety. These walks will take place at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 and will focus on areas of campus where safety improvements can be made.

He said SG is working on a driving program called Cat Cruiser to service students around campus and surrounding areas from 9 p.m. Thursday nights to 3 a.m. Sunday mornings. It will begin late in October or early November.

“One of the areas of concern we identified was late at night,” Smith said. “There’s not really an opportunity for students on campus and off to get around the UK community.”

Despite the campus-wide e-mail sent to students, staff and faculty Tuesday, the turnout for the forum was small.

However, those in attendance gained valuable knowledge about campus safety.

History and political science freshman Madison Foster is now interested the Self Defense Tactics and Risk Reduction women’s self defense program offered for free by UK Police.

“I’m going to look into it,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to take a self defense class. Just to know that I’m protected is kind of cool.”

“I’m excited about the student driving program that’s going to start,” integrated strategic communications freshman Mandy Parker said. “All the e-mails that have been going out about crimes on campus; it’s disconcerting.”

Monroe, Smith and UK Vice President for Student Affairs Robert Mock answered questions from the crowd.

UK Police has anonymous tip software on its website that allows people to communicate back and forth with the police without revealing their identities.

Monroe said he hopes students will use this if they’ve heard any information regarding the recent campus robberies.