Tag Archive | "Crime"

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Public Safety amps up surveillance

Posted on 24 September 2008 by Joseph Clark

Returning students may have noticed one of 67 pairs of blue-and-gold signs reminding them “This area may be monitored by Public Safety cameras.”
The signs were installed in conjunction with significant upgrades to DPS’s infrastructure, including 60 new security cameras installed since 2007, and a Command Information Center to monitor them.

Lt. Brian J. Joschko, DPS support systems coordinator, said the Command Center allowed the “Integrating existing cameras with access control and alarm systems.”
Access control allows DPS to unlock doors campus-wide, monitor student’s use of ID cards to enter buildings and rooms, and record the information. Panic alarms are installed throughout campus for staff use, notably wherever cash is handled.

All this data is accessible in a monitoring room completed last semester behind existing dispatch center to house new computers and equipment, most noticeably the 134-inch security camera viewing screen, which can display live footage from any camera on campus. There are 298 cameras on the interiors of campus buildings, 49 on exteriors, and 53 in all the parking garages, or 400 total. Another 16 outdoor cameras have been approved and funded.

All footage is saved for the “average goal” of 30 days, but if a major crime is recorded, the footage is burned and submitted to evidence.
“In our experience here, we’ve not had to go back more than 30 days. Major crimes are usually reported immediately, and even minor crimes like a car being broken into or a bike being stolen is reported in a day or two,” said Joschko.

Joschko demonstrated a laptop which all DPS cars are equipped with, which allows officers to access live camera feeds, and control angling and resolution wirelessly. A camera surveying 16th and State was able to read the license plate of a Jeep half a city block away. Joschko said he did not know the cameras’ exact resolution, which varies by unit, but said the newest and most powerful, the “pride and joy” of the department, can follow objects three to four city blocks away.

Associate Director Capt. Russ Shaw, recounted a Sept. 10 incident in which the Command Information Center proved vital to apprehending a suspect.
Around 5:45 p.m., a 20-year old female student was entering Johnson Hall when an assailant grabbed her wristlet off her backpack. She called DPS on a borrowed cell phone, and gave a description of the suspect. Cameras located the suspect traveling northward on Wisconsin.

“Cameras lost sight as he moved north, but officers got to the scene,” said Shaw. “Tehre were about five seconds between loosing him and the officer saying ‘I got him.’”
“These things usually happen much quicker than they sound on paper,” said Shaw.

Numerous other departments, such as Recreational Sports, Athletics, the Alumni Memorial Union, IT Services, and Residence Life also have access to video from their respective buildings to heighten security, though the rules governing the release of footage is strictly controlled by DPS.

For example, if a student resident were to be caught on camera committing a suspected crime, Public Safety would consult the hall director of the relevant building, because they would be more likely to know the student, said Rick Acuri, Associate Dean of Administration of Residence Life.

When informed about the number of cameras on campus, Meghan Wright, 19, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences “It seems a little extreme. I wish I knew where [the cameras] were. I bet 400 sounds like a big number when you don’t know where they are. Where would they put them all?”

“It makes me feel safe because I park my car on the parking deck. But it kind of makes me fell like Big Brother is watching,” said Wright.

“I saw up by the law school the new signs alerting people to the cameras,” said Daniel Blinka, a professor at the Law School specializing in evidence. “The main deterrent of the video camera is in not keeping [surveillance] a secret, but letting people know. People who, A) can read, and B)will think better of committing some crime for it.”

“If the issue is identification, video can be determinative, so long as a victim or witness can look at it…You can look at that and say, ‘That’s pretty useful,’ but we don’t have audio. But maybe the issue is not [identification],” said Blinka, and cited scenarios where threats and provocations cannot be resolved by surveillance evidence because it lacks audio, such as the filming of the 1991 beating of Rodney King by LAPD officers.

Blinka said he“[does] not believe” in the “CSI effect” written about by many law professors, whereby juries are underwhelmed by circumstantial evidence and demand video or forensic evidence to make their decisions.

“A jury expects each side to come in with the best evidence. Video can be powerful evidence, and if it’s available, and will be used to make a case if either side has it. The demand for video is not coming from juries, but from public officials wanting the best evidence.” said Blinka.

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Dialogue needed in Open Pantry article

Posted on 02 April 2008 by Letter

Dear Editor,

I would love to open up a dialogue about the recent story titled “Crime at Open Pantry”. We are very passionate about taking care of our employees and customers everyday at Open Pantry and I certainly would be open to discuss this situation with you, your staff, and also invite anyone from Marquette security or student services to participate. As you know we need to serve the entire community legally and heart fully. This is our company culture and duty to society. We strive to do this first safely and then friendly to all. The concern mentioned in the article is a genuine challenge that we face daily while operating in campus town. Dialogue between all parties that helps this concern in any way is welcome by Open Pantry. The title “Crime at Open Pantry” may not accurately describe any issue listed in the article or in the letter we did receive on Monday Feb 25th at our office from Tyler who by the way was a great employee and I am truly sad to see him leave. Even in his letter he describes a number of incidents, none “Criminal”, all the less very concerning. Your article came out the following day. This may not be described accurately in the article but this really is of no issue. Thanks for you time.

-James Fiene
Chief Operating Officer, Open Pantry Food Marts of Wisconsin

This letter was written in reference to an article in the February 27 issue of The Warrior.

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Delving into Campus Crime: Hitting crime at it’s roots on Marquette’s urban campus.

Posted on 02 April 2008 by Katelyn Ferral

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It was the kidnapping and five armed robberies that occurred within the two weeks just prior to Spring Break that made Micaela Robb-McGrath conscious of the realities of crime in District 3.

“Although I thought I was making good choices, I really probably wasn’t making the best choices for my safety,” Robb-McGrath, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said. “The time and circumstances surrounding the incidents, especially the clustering and severity of the crimes showed that I really do need to take proactive steps to be safe on campus.”

With the recent spike in violent crime on campus, the perception of students tends to be that violent crime in the area is increasing.

“I thought crime in the immediate Marquette area was increasing after those events,” Robb-McGrath said.

With nationally recognized student safety programs, Marquette’s Department of Public Safety is looked to as the remedy for crime on campus. Especially in light of the recent violence, DPS has made itself, along with the Milwaukee Police Department available to address concerns and answer questions from the Marquette community, as was seen in a March 10 forum. However, despite the efforts of DPS, some students still have reservations about the level of safety on campus.

“Those crimes were just jarring and shocking,” Julie Knyszek, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said. “When they’re separated out you don’t think about it as much as when it all happens in one week.”

District 3 does have higher numbers of violent crime than other areas of Milwaukee, but, according to the MPD Web site, violent crime, including robberies, has actually decreased by 62 percent since 1990.

The expansion of DPS, not only in numbers, but in the continual creation of effective student safety programs also affects crime trends. Since his start with DPS in 1985, Captain Russell Shaw said the department has grown three times its original size.

“As far as personal crime goes, since the late 90s, it has decreased at Marquette,” Shaw said. “With the recent spike in robberies, the perception might be the opposite, but in reality the numbers are lower.”

“CRIMES OF OPPORTUNITY”

In the most recent robbery that occurred over spring break on W. Wisconsin Ave., Shaw said all of the five suspects came from outside of District 3 to commit the crime.

“The majority of violent crime around campus committed is from those outside our area,” Shaw said. “It’s often a crime of opportunity; in a lot of these cases they’re just riding through here.”

As far as increased security measures are concerned, Shaw said the department continues to add more cameras and has cut vacation time to be able to keep a high level of manpower in the department and more officers on the streets.

“We’re creating more overtime and trying to saturate the area as much as we can to have more squads out there,” Shaw said.

In terms of crime, Marquette is a very safe area to be living in, but taking preventative measures along with gaining a broader understanding of violent crime in the area makes a difference in decreasing a student’s chances of being a victim, said Shaw.

“It’s important to look at the big picture outside the patrol area, students never think crime is going to happen to them and it gets frustrating when students don’t take advantage of the safety programs” Shaw said. “A decent amount of students come from rural areas and it takes time to adjust to the urban environment, but students need to be totally aware of their surroundings.”

Despite complaints that DPS is not always upfront about the nature of the severity of campus crimes, Shaw maintains the department does not try to withhold information.

“We’re not trying to hide things when we put information about an incident out there,” Shaw said.

The need for departmental discretion when dealing with crime information is also present in the relationship between MPD and the public. “We weigh the need for people to know about the crimes with the need for a successful resolution,” MPD District 3 Captain James Harpole said.

A new approach to community policing, with a focus on building and fostering relationships between DPS, MPD and residents of the community is becoming an increasingly prevalent and effective way to control crime.

“It was an error of the past to look at community policing as just a program. It is not a program, but a method of operation, focusing on responding to the needs of the community,” Harpole said. “We are working towards becoming proactive instead of reactive like we are now. Our goal is to get rid of the visible signs of disorder and crime. We need to stop people from coming from other areas into District 3 to buy drugs and sex.”

“INTELLIGENCE LED, DATA DRIVEN AND PROACTIVE”

With the limited resources that exist in all communities, learning to balance and work with budgets at the state and local levels is a recurrent challenge of law enforcement at Marquette and in Milwaukee.

“It can be difficult, because preventing crime is resource intensive, and when there are visible signs that something is happening on the street, it adds to that negative perception of the neighborhood,” Jeffrey Altenburg, Marquette alumnus and Director of the Community Based Prosecution Unit for Milwaukee County, said. “Our early priority has been to get a plan in place, where we’re looking for results on violent crime and we’re committed to use info to get specific resources.”

The emphasis on personal relationships, not only between police and the community but also within the department, is the focus of MPD, which “continues to be intelligence led, data driven and proactive,” Altenburg said.

Graduating from Marquette in 1986, Altenburg said that when he was a student, Public Safety was not the advanced policing force it has since become.

“When I was at Marquette, DPS was more like mall security,” Altenburg said. “But the transformation of the department did not happen overnight, you’ll get returns where you put resources in.”

Despite the strides DPS has and continues to make, the realities of an urban environment make crime nearly inevitable.

“I understand crime is not their fault because there’s only so much power in the department and they’re limited by so many factors,” Knyzsek said. “When crime increases they only use what they have available, but I would like MPD to be more available on campus,” Knyszek said.

Although students’ perceptions may be that more cops equal less crime, Harpole said more cops doesn’t necessarily equate to a safer neighborhood.

“For the number of people at Marquette, crime is low,” Harpole said. “Crime happens everywhere, but in Milwaukee we already have this perception that it’s crime filled, but it’s really an anomaly. You can’t condemn the neighborhood and be paralyzed by fear; sometimes we look at such a small snapshot in time when it’s not always accurate.”

As much as crime is stopped by law enforcement, the prosecution of crime plays a pivotal role in diminishing crime in District 3. However, because of budget restrictions and resource limitations, the District Attorney’s office has looked to alternatives outside the criminal justice system, better suited to deal with specific offenses, Altenburg said.

“We’ve been getting smarter about how you bring people into the criminal justice system, you have to preserve limited resources for violent individuals,” Altenburg said. “We’re not soft on crime, we’re tough on crime, but when you lose 20 prosecutors in the DA’s office you have to make tough decisions.”

In addition to understanding what works in the criminal justice system, Altenburg maintains identity is key to cutting crime.

“More neighborhood identity, and relationships and communication improve crime in the community,” Altenburg said.

THE IMPACT OF THE AVENUES WEST ASSOCIATION

As much as law enforcement and prosecutors impact crime in the area, the redevelopment of the business district around Marquette and revitalization of buildings in the community in recent years has played a critical role in violent crime development.

“There really has been a steady, but dramatic downward trend in crime in District 3,” June Moberly, executive director of the Avenues West Association, the local neighborhood revitalization association said. “The investment and reinvestment in businesses and upgrading buildings in the community has had a real impact.”

The Avenues West Association works with businesses in District 3 to improve property management practices and to create a safer environment. The association also works with landlords in the area, encouraging them not to rent to troubled tenants, said Moberly.

Currently the Association is working on infrastructure reinvestments, pedestrian lightings and 27th St. main streets program in the neighborhood. Business and building improvements to the neighborhood has increased property values in the last 13 years.

According to the Avenues West Association’s 2007 Annual Report in comments made by Association President and Marquette Vice President of the Office of Public Affairs Rana Altenburg, “property values within the Avenues West Business Improvement District rose from $46,524,890 in 1993 to $92,953,229 in 2006.

Despite increased real estate values, poverty is still a concern in District 3. “District 3 is home to a more poverty stricken community, and with that higher level of poverty, there tends to be more crime,” Harpole said.

Along with poverty, the Ambassador Hotel, which catered to prostitutes and extensive drug activity in the mid-80s, also played a large role in crime, and contributed to a perception of the community around Marquette as blighted and dangerous.

“Business districts help communities thrive, but when they decline, and there’s that perception that businesses are boarded up, the trend tends to be that homeowners leave and renters come in,” Harpole said.

However, with neighborhood improvements in Avenues West, there continues to be a stronger element of home ownership. As Marquette also purchases property in the area and renovates it, the perception of District 3 improves.

“The investments Marquette has made have been instrumental in improving the area,” Harpole said. “Marquette’s vision for the area has played a huge role in the rebirth of the region with the Ambassador Hotel renovation and other recent developments.”

Part 2
by Robert Fafinski III

For Mike Heim, senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, though, all these facts and figures came crashing down on him one night in late 2006. On an otherwise normal evening at Marquette, Heim, a thrower on the Track team, was walking back from studying at the Al McGuire Center.

“I saw two black guys coming at me with a purpose, I had a moment of indecision-thought ‘what do I do?’-and then it happened… the first guy grabbed me, pulled me onto the grass. I tensed up to fight, and that’s when I saw the other guy pointing a gun at me.”

Heim is not someone a person would normally associate with being the victim of a crime. A thrower on the Track team, Heim’s size and strength are considered some of his greatest assets. He’s 6’6” and weighs 270 pounds. He is a big guy. But now, Heim realizes his size only gave him a false sense of security.
“I have no more illusions that I can’t get picked on because I’m big,” he said in an interview Monday.

After the initial shock wore off and Heim realized that he was being mugged, he attempted to look at the men for distinguishing features, something he hoped could be used for subsequent police efforts. That’s when the scariest thing happened.

“After the confusion wore off, I started to look up because I may have had to identify the guys. That’s when the guy thrust up the gun at my face and said, ‘Don’t f—— look at me or I’ll shoot your ass.”

It’s at this point that looking back Heim is finally actually able to find a little humor in the incident.
“When he said that, I stuck my chin waaay down on my chest I was so scared I did whatever they said.”

When the men had taken all of Heim’s personal property, they told him to walk back the way he had come while they mad their getaway.

“When they had everything, they said ‘turn back and walk back the way you came- don’t turn around or I’ll shoot you.’ And I believed them.”
Heim then stumbled upon two unsuspecting Marquette women who let him into their apartment and called DPS. Heim was physically safe, but the damage to his psyche was just setting in.

MU RESPONSE “AWESOME”

Marquette University Public Safety acted very professionally and caring, according to Heim. Despite his shaken state, the first officer on the scene was very helpful- suggesting counseling and even giving Heim a pamphlet about identity theft.
“I thought [DPS was] awesome. They were patient because I was speaking a mile a minute. The officer was really nice. He talked to me about victim counseling. He also told me, ‘this is a traumatic crime. If at any point in the future you feel nervous or need someone to talk to, just pick up a Blue Light Phone and one of our officers will just pick you up and drive you home.’”
Heim did, in fact, utilize the victim counseling services offered by Marquette. Often after a traumatic crime, the victim will not feel comfortable talking about his feelings to someone who has not had a shared experience. So Heim was a little apprehensive about going to counseling.

But, he said, “It did help. I mean, those people are trained to understand. It gave me something to bounce my frustrations off of. It was someone to talk to and [Marquette University] really prepared a lot of support for me.”
What was not “awesome” for Heim was the criminal outcome. The two men were never found. They used his debit card a few times over the next hour or so, but then the trail went cold.

MENTAL CONCERNS

When the DPS officers arrived at the apartment after the mugging, Heim was finally safe. The muggers could not get to him. But just because he was physically safe did not mean the damage was done.

It is not easy for Heim to talk about it, but that the mugging really does stay with him on a daily basis while on Marquette’s campus.

“I’m still having trouble with it…It really changes your perception of things,” he said. “I’d hear a noise that usually wouldn’t startle me and I’d jump right out of my seat.”

After the robbery, Heim took steps to avoid being the victim of another traumatic crime. He was much more cognizant of people around him on campus. He used Marquette’s LIMO program. But this year, his vigilance began to wane. But with the recent wave of criminal activity on campus, Heim has largely returned to his vigilant ways.

“You know, I try not to walk home by myself anymore, especially realizing this crime spree recently. I take LIMOS and get rides after the sun goes down,” he said. “Whenever I walk anywhere off of Wisconsin Avenue, my head’s on a swivel.”
In all, Heim says he lost a little over $300 worth of property. Not bad considering he had a pistol pointed at his face for a few minutes. But even worse than the monetary loss for Heim is the loss of innocence.

“The worst thing they did is take away my sense of security,” he said. “Obviously, I wasn’t comfortable here at Marquette.”

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Crime at Open Pantry: employee raises concerns, but customers still shop

Posted on 14 March 2008 by Victoria Caswell

Coffee, a burrito bar, hot dogs and a comfortable seating area are four things that Open Pantry, 824 N. 16th St., began offering on Aug. 30, 2007, when it opened its new location below Campus Town West.

“This great relationship between Marquette University and Open Pantry will not only provide one of the most innovative places to shop for fresh foods and daily needs, but also provide a place for students to gather to study or watch games on TV while enjoying a coffee from the Willow Creek Espresso Bar,” Robert A. Buhler, the president and CEO of Open Pantry, said in an August 2007 press release.

However, according to a former employee, the goal of the store isn’t being achieved and the environment isn’t always appropriate for students.

“The clientele at Open Pantry is mainly composed of homeless people purchasing 4-packs of Milwaukee’s Best and Steel Reserve,” said Tyler Holcomb, a junior in the College of Engineering and former Open Pantry employee. “Most of these people are highly disruptive and cause many problems for Marquette University—for the students, for the employees of the store and for the company.”

Holcomb has noted several instances when the safety of both employees and customers has been compromised.

Once, Holcomb said, a drunken man bought hot dogs and sat down. When employees looked over at the man, there was a puddle of urine on the floor underneath his chair in the seating area. The employees then confronted the man and he was uncooperative. The Milwaukee Police Department was contacted, and the man was escorted out of the store after approximately 30 minutes of arguments with the officers. Holcomb had to clean and disinfect the area thoroughly.

According to Holcomb, several similar incidents occurred, but were ignored by the management. He quit after a threat from a disgruntled customer.

“The reason I quit was because upper management made no changes to try to promote student sales,” Holcomb said. “They do nothing to try to solve the problem of the homeless people hanging out there and causing problems. I think a lot of students don’t go there because of that.”

Because of his experience, Holcomb thought of a couple ways to improve the store. One idea is only selling cases of beer—most of the troublesome customers buy either four or six packs. Another of his ideas would be to have a security guard stationed in the store for late nights. He wrote a letter to the Open Pantry corporate office to share his ideas.

“The number of times Public Safety and the Milwaukee Police Department have been contacted on Open Pantry’s account is absurd,” Holcomb said. “It is completely outrageous that the employees must contact men and women who are trained to use weapons in order to combat a disruptive situation.”

Despite the incidents, many students continue to shop at Open Pantry.

Alex Rios, a senior in the College of Communication, said he shops at the Open Pantry frequently, but has never seen or heard of any altercations.

“I need to buy the necessities, he said. “It has beer and eggs.”

Michael DeSarno, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences said he still buys food at the store even though he hears stories about disruptive customers from his friends.

“Despite everything, I still go there because there isn’t another supermarket-like place.”

Open Pantry management was unable to comment.

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In the wake of tragedy, try to see the finger of God

Posted on 25 April 2007 by Letter

I’m sure that virtually all of us are still reeling at the horrific events which took place on at Virginia Tech. Such mindless evil is dreadfully hard to contemplate. There are no easy answers to difficult questions.

And yet . . .

And yet . . .

Like we have seen so often before, during times of immense tragedy, amid all the suffering and pain, amid all the questions and the anger – there are also miracles. There are those who “were supposed to be somewhere, but weren’t,” and later realize that they have been spared. There are those who, in moments of unspeakable horror, act with incredible courage. There are those who “rise to the occasion,” when the need is greatest.

We see the Finger of God.

I see the Finger of God in the heroic sacrifice of a professor, who literally blockaded a classroom door with his body so that his students could escape. Greater love hath no man.

I see the Finger of God in the presence of an Eagle Scout in one classroom, who was able to render emergency first-aid to those around him – and was never touched by a bullet.

I see the Finger of God on the life of a young man who decided to have a quick coffee with his girlfriend, rather than rush off. They are both alive today.

I see the Finger of God on the life of a young woman who, although always early, was, for some reason running late.

I see the Finger of God in the very fact that these tragedies are so rare; that this sort of wanton evil remains, for the most part, checked.

It was St. Thomas Aquinas who pointed out that, if God wanted to destroy the Universe, He would not have to do anything – He would have to STOP doing something. It is His Finger on the pulse of the Universe which keeps everything going.

I grieve with all those who have lost friends and loved ones. I grieve for the loss of life – and for the loss of innocence. And I am filled with wonder and great gratitude at the little miracles, those actions by the Finger of God, which kept this terrible, terrible tragedy from being infinitely worse.

May the souls of the victims — and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Submitted by David Zampino, lecturer in the Theology Department

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Conceal-carry could’ve ended tragedy

Posted on 25 April 2007 by Robert Fafinski

This is a tough column to write because the nationwide emotional wound is not yet close to healing. But it must be written. In the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting by student Cho Seung-Hui, the best thing we can do is look forward, ask tough questions and try to implement policies that could help to avoid similar catastrophes.

The Second Amendment says that “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” That seems simple and clear enough – citizens are allowed to own and carry weapons. Currently 48 states have laws that allow for some degree of concealed-carry, meaning it is legal to carry a handgun in public on one’s person. Illinois and Wisconsin are the only two states that have no provision allowing people to have personal protection in the form of a gun in public.

In January 2006, Wisconsin Governor Doyle vetoed a bill passed by the Wisconsin state legislature that would have allowed for people over the age of 21 to carry concealed weapons upon completion of a safety course and contingent upon the fact that they had never been convicted of a felony or of a few enumerated misdemeanors like, for example, domestic violence.

Until last week I believed that Doyle’s veto ignored a constitutional guarantee, but I never really saw the practical ramifications. I often told friends that despite Milwaukee’s high murder rates, we had nothing to worry about since the vast majority of murders are drug or gang-related in which both the shooter and the victim are less than admirable characters and usually acquaintances.

Yet, the problem of random crimes does exist and unfortunately, people like Cho are part of our society. It’s a sad reality that a similar situation is technically within the realm of possibility at Marquette. Most of Marquette’s classrooms only have one exit, so it’d be easy to trap a classroom full of students. Unarmed, students are without any form of recourse and may be easy prey to an assailant.

There will always be troubled people in the world. That’s a fact. But some people are so troubled – maybe even crazy – that the only thing that can possibly stop them from killing is the idea that they may end up looking down the barrel of a gun..

While the state of Virginia allows concealed weapons to be carried by its citizens, unfortunately Virginia Tech does not. In fact, last year at Virginia Tech a licensed carrier got into trouble with school administrators for having his handgun with him in class. Could the shooter’s rampage been shortened by one law abiding citizen with steady aim and a Smith & Wesson? I believe many lives could’ve been saved and that it’s too bad no Virginia Tech student or faculty member was allowed to have a weapon on them that day.

I’m not saying the perfect answer is to arm students and professors. In a perfect world, we’d need no guns at all outside of hunting and recreational shooting. But let’s be serious and honest: that perfect world is not here. Each and every day in the U.S. criminals are stopped in the act of a crime by law abiding citizens with guns. It’s altogether too ignorant and simplistic to say, “Guns are bad so we should outlaw them.” Even if we outlawed them, criminals would still break the law and get guns. They’re criminals after all and breaking the law is what they do.

After a tragedy, there are tough questions to be asked and many viewpoints to be discussed. That’s a good thing. I know that this event has led me to think seriously about applying for a concealed-carry permit in my home state of Minnesota. If I do get the permit, I wouldn’t carry a handgun with me at all times in Minnesota, but there’d be times I would. If you are contemplating committing a serious crime in Minnesota, you better hope that someone like me is not around. Yet, thanks to Governor Doyle, while in Wisconsin we remain deprived of this power to defend ourselves, our loved ones and, God forbid, our classmates…

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Is campus safe? Yes

Posted on 08 November 2006 by Nicole Larson

With many prisoners being released in major cities around the country, such as Detroit and St. Louis, there are many safety concerns surrounding urban campus life. Milwaukee is no exception. With one of the highest increased crime rates, many parents are feeling nervous about their college children. Marquette is one of the most highly secured campuses, however, and it has an obligation to students and parents that it does not take lightly. Although there are concerns about the Marquette campus not being safe, it is simply not true. Marquette ensures the safety of its students and faculty by taking extra precautions and offering many different safety options in all areas of student life.One such service that Marquette provides is student security escorts to accompany students around campus. A student can call the Department of Public Safety and two security members will meet with the person and walk him or her to the necessary destination. These students are easy to reach, and they wear bright yellow jackets so that they can be seen from far away.

Blue lights are another safety tool Marquette uses to ensure the well-being of all members of the university. These blue lights can be found on just about every street corner and can be used 24 hours a day. If at any time a student feels unsafe or threatened, he or she can push the button on the blue light, and Public Safety officers will immediately come to a student’s location. These are very helpful, especially late at night. Everyone in the communities in and around Marquette is aware of the blue lights, so they may help deter offenders off as well as bring public safety to the scene.

The dorm policy for entering and visitng is yet another precaution Marquette takes to keep students safe. Two student workers are on duty all day in each residence hall, and Public Safety officers take over for the late-night hours. A student must provide official Marquette identification which will be swiped in order to allow access to the building. This particular precaution exists so that people from the neighboring areas cannot walk into the residence hall without proper permission. Along the same lines, if a student wants to bring a visitor to stay for the night, the student must have paperwork filled out ahead of time so that the university is aware of who is in the building at all times.

Another valuable service Marquette offers its students is Local Inercampus Mobil Operation (LIMO) vans. These vans are accessible from the hours of 5 p.m. through 3 a.m. to any student who needs a ride for any reason. “The limos are great, especially on a cold night,” commented Brigid Brennan, “and it’s a relief when I’m wearing heels and my feet hurt after a long night to get a ride back home.” A student can call the Public Safety office, and a LIMO van will pick that student up in a timely manner from their location. This is useful in late-night situations when students may not feel safe walking back to their residence halls. These vans are always driving at night and can be flagged down by any blue light if a student cannot remember the telephone number.

Through Marquette’s excellent Public Safety services, there are also self defense classes available to students on campus free of charge, and they put out a newsletter informing students of current events and programs they sponsor. The Public Safety offices are located across the street from McCormick Hall on 16th street, and they are open 24 hours a day. The officers are friendly and always willing to help students anyway they are able.

When I first decided to attend Marquette, I was initially nervous because I had never lived in an urban setting. My mom was more nervous about my safety than I was, so we did some research online about the safety at Marquette, and it eased our fears about my safety. I can honestly say that I have not felt threatened since arrived. I walk to my residence hall on 16th Street from 11th Street from campus activities, and I have never felt unsafe. With a blue light on each block, LIMO vans circling continuously along with Public Safety officers everywhere, I know I am safe. Marquette is a safe community, and if a student is fully informed on ways to stay safe and all the services the university has to offer, there is no need to fear.

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Is campus safe? No

Posted on 08 November 2006 by James Diamond

One way to get a feel for campus safety is to ask someone who was a victim of crime. After all, safety is just as much of a feeling as it is compiled of statistics. My roommate recently became a victim of armed robbery on the corner of 16th and State streets, right outside our house. A gun was pulled on him, and the robbers stole his backpack, wallet and cell phone. My roommate is now a faithful customer of Marquette’s L.I.M.O. service, because he feels unsafe traveling alone for even a few blocks. One aspect of attending a city school is living with city problems. Unfortunately for Marquette students, Milwaukee has had the biggest crime increase of cities with populations of 250,000 or more. According to a June 14, 2006 article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, murders and assaults in Milwaukee have “soared.”

This follows an overall increase of crime throughout the Midwest.

Clearly Milwaukee has its share of crime-related problems. Our immediate concern, however, is campus safety. Records from the Milwaukee Police Department during the month of October show Marquette’s campus is feeling the burn. For instance, there were eight robberies, three aggravated assaults, three burglaries, five motor vehicle thefts, two shots fired (both in the past week) and 33 thefts.

Although these numbers are serious, they do not compare to those found just outside the DPS patrol zone. Just north and west of Marquette, crime is more severe. How are we to feel safe on campus when our nearby neighbors are being mugged? There is no way to isolate ourselves from the problems of the community, and this directly relates to the uneasy feeling students get when they walk home at night.

For those of us living outside Marquette-owned property, crime is especially a concern. Not only do these students experience increased rates in theft and burglary, they also have to deal with the presence of convicted sexual offenders. Twelve offenders live near these students.

Another sign that Marquette’s campus is not particularly safe is suggested in the different habits students have adopted. One female student who attended a Public Safety self-defense class told me she no longer keeps her hair in a ponytail when walking alone at night. This makes sense, because if someone would attack her from behind, she would have a much better chance of pulling away if the attacker can only grab a portion of her hair. Another female student said she always turns around to glance at whomever is walking behind her. After taking note of height, weight and physical appearance, she feels safer knowing she could pick someone out of a lineup.

If we accept the reality that Marquette is not a safe campus, we have to look for solutions. Marquette’s recent addition of lampposts was noble, but it has to go further. My roommate was robbed partly due to poor lighting. Marquette has to work with off-campus housing to address this issue if Marquette students don’t just live on campus. One female student has suggested that more DPS officers should patrol campus on bike and on foot. This suggestion came after an officer patrolling in a car failed to even look at her while she was alone in a dark alley. A few students have suggested the Milwaukee Police Department should have an increased presence on campus, due to their broad jurisdiction and more visible authority.

One more way to increase campus safety is to change the location of where dollars are invested. I know my tuition dollars are going toward impenetrable dorm security, and it seems like off-campus housing students are getting the short end of the deal. Those on the campus borders need more security. Even if Marquette shifts the majority of its security to its borders, the heart of campus will remain safe. Crime simply cannot penetrate an area so congested with traffic and people.

Many of us chose Marquette without giving much thought to the issue of security. This is because an environment of education is expected to be safe. Now that we are faced with reality, let’s not be discouraged that crime on campus exists; rather, let’s focus on how to get rid of it.

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