The Campus Safety Task Force, recently created by Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell, released its recommendations Monday on ways to prevent crime on and around area college and university campuses.
The task force comprised of campus representatives from metro Atlanta colleges and universities. Over the past month, the group has met to discuss safety concerns, best practices for campus safety, and solutions to ensure the safety of all college students living on and near college campuses.
The task force’s recommendations are as follows:
- Install a network of video cameras on and near college campuses which can be integrated into existing City of Atlanta Video Integration Command Center.
- Install and improve lighting on and around college campuses.
- Promote full utilization of student, parent, faculty and staff emergency notification and identification systems and other technology based safety tools, and the City of Atlanta’s SMART 911 system.
- Encourage and support periodic mandatory safety awareness training for students, faculty and staff.
- Establish Memoranda of Understanding between all campus police departments and Atlanta Police Department.
- Launch City of Atlanta’s Crime Stoppers program on each campus and promote the “See Something, Say Something” campaign.
- Incorporate campus officials in City of Atlanta’s bi-weekly multi-disciplinary code enforcement meeting.
- Conduct semi-annual campus community safety audits and environmental assessments in conjunction with City of Atlanta departments.
- Establish a standing city wide student safety council to maintain ongoing collaboration between college campus public safety officials and the City of Atlanta.
- Recommend that the Georgia Legislature enact a law providing campus police with the option to extend the 500 yard jurisdictional limitation in accordance with established memoranda of understanding.
- Establish a campus safety improvement fund in coordination with the Atlanta Police Foundation and Crime Stoppers.
- Enact legislation establishing campus crime free zones with increased criminal penalties.
- Further support and encourage the continuation of existing crime sweeps and other joint deployment efforts between campus police and the Atlanta Police Department.
- Establish greater coordination between MARTA police and campus police.
- Clarify campus police jurisdiction to issue city ordinances and encourage specific engagement between City and County prosecutors, the Courts and campus police departments
The task force’s specific yet uniform safety recommendations have been presented to the Mayor, the Atlanta Police Department, campus presidents and public safety representatives that can be implemented at the beginning of the fall semester.
According to the Atlanta Police Department, 2010-11 statistics of crimes on and around college campuses show that there were:
- 1,886 reported larceny cases (vehicle and non-vehicle)
- 161 reported cases of robbery (pedestrian)
- 39 reported burglaries (residence and nonresidential)
- 170 reported cases of robbery (residential and commercial)
- 296 reported cases of auto theft
- 4 reported cases of rape
- 135 reported cases of aggravated assault
- 4 homicide cases
“I appreciate the time and commitment of the Campus Safety task force members. Each of them brought a unique and useful perspective to our discussions,” said Mitchell. “The submitted recommendations reflect the insight and input of each member of the task force. Therefore, I am confident that the recommendations will be well accepted by all stakeholders.”
Student leader participants were also pleased with the work of the task force. "The work of this task force has tremendous potential to solve the challenges that currently face students in Atlanta surrounding safety,” said Anre D. Washington, student association president for Morehouse College. “The effective allocation of resources and adoption of a few best practices displays a commitment by the City of Atlanta to protect one of its most valuable assets. I look forward to the goals becoming achievements in the coming months."
Atlanta is not alone in experiencing a rise in criminal acts from robberies to rape and assault.
The U.S. Dept of Education, the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service recently released an extensive research report that indicated the incidents of college campus crime and violence across the country had drastically increased in the past 20 years.
Much of the increase has to do with the technology that students use today.
In the age of laptops, iPods, iPhones and other digital devices, criminals are increasingly turning to students as their next victims, experts say.
“One of the best outcomes of the taskforce is the increased communication and collaboration between the students and officials on different metro Atlanta campuses.” added Mitchell. “I believe this increase in communication and information sharing will prove to be one of the best defenses against campus crime.”