Securing campus

Incidents raise questions of safety on and off campus

Brian Chan, MD ’13, had $750 stolen from his car Saturday night.
Brian Chan, MD ’13, had $750 stolen from his car Saturday night.
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On Saturday night, Brian Chan, MD ’13, had $750 stolen from his car outside of Grant Hall.

“Every year Queen’s medical school runs a talent show called [Queen’s Medical Variety Night (MVN),] held at Grant Hall. Tickets are sold for $10 and the show runs for three nights with a bake sale and raffle. We raise money for three charities: Breast Cancer Action Kingston, Dawn House Women’s Shelter and Partner’s in Mission Foodbank Kingston,” Chan, who is also the MVN director, said.

“Twenty minutes into the show the people running the bake sale gave me $750 from the three nights in a Tupperware box. I put it in my car and parked right outside Grant Hall. An hour later I went outside and my back window was smashed in and the money was taken.

“Either it was someone at the show or someone who was watching me,” Chan said, adding that he contacted campus security and filed a police report with Kingston Police, but because under $1,000 was stolen it’s unlikely the investigation will be pursued with interest, he said.

Since September, Campus Security has received reports of over 2,000 incidents, including bicycle theft, calls seeking medical assistance and reports of private homes being broken into, David Patterson director of Queen’s Campus Security said.

When incidents could pose a safety threat in the community, Patterson said Campus Security will issue an email alert like they did on Nov. 4 after a female student was reportedly grabbed by an unknown male while passing through the parking lot north of Stauffer Library. The female student escaped her attacker unharmed but the suspect was not found.

Patterson said the number of security incidents reported on campus remains fairly consistent from year-to-year. This year has seen an influx of approximately 300 more incidents, but these incidents range from someone being locked out of their office to a break in, he said.

“Students don’t need to worry because we haven’t seen an increase in serious incidents, at least from what has been reported to us,” Patterson said. “These incidents are similar to what occurs on other university and college campuses, and aren’t unique to the Queen’s campus.”

From Sept. 1 to Nov. 10 of this year there have been 2,416 incidents reported to Campus Security. Thefts and trespassing are decreasing year-to-year but disorderly behaviour, malicious fire alarms and emergency calls with no cause or mischief as a cause are on the rise. Calls providing security with information are also at an all time low, which also brings the total number of incident reports down. In the 2008 calendar year there were 7,633 incidents reported. That number increased to 8,454 in the 2009 calendar year.

The University of Western Ontario has a student population only slightly larger than that of Queen’s. But their Campus Police report receiving 18,296 calls of incidents ranging from breaking and entering to vandalism to traffic violations during the 2009 calendar year. That’s down from when they had 20,108 incidents in 2006 but up from the 7,593 they had in 2005.

“We did have a dramatic increase in reports,” said Michael Mics, Campus Police staff sergeant, adding that the reason for this increase was a change in the reporting system.

“That’s why there was a big jump. The numbers increased because the record keeping has changed.”

He said that instead of reporting all the day’s incidents together, each incident is now reported independently and police activity reports now include things like off-site property checks, street contact and special patrols. Nonetheless, he said general trends at UWO in crime remain consistent.

“Property crime still remains to be our biggest issue—stolen wallets, stolen laptops, etc.”

At first glance it looks like Western has quite a few more incidents than Queen’s but Mics said comparing the two schools is difficult because of the differences between them, one of which is the structure of the police service. UWO’s Campus Community Police Service differs from Queen’s Campus Security in that it constitutes a police service, thus giving them more off-campus authority.

“There are so many variables,” he said. “It’s like comparing apples to oranges.

“We are an accredited police agency,” Mics said, adding that this involves certain tasks not dealt with by campus security, such as traffic violations.

“Queen’s manages security differently than UWO manages police.”

Mics said UWO has unique factors which could impact its crime rates and that crimes on the UWO campus generally aren’t caused by the student population.

“20,000 plus cars a day drive through our campus that have nothing to do with our campus,” he said. “Most of our students are victims of offences. [They] are likely perpetrated by someone who is not a member of that community.”

Because Queen’s Campus security is not a police force like they have at UWO, Patterson said their authority is very limited off campus.

“If somebody reported that their house in the Ghetto was broken into, they have to call Kingston police,” he said. “This is because it’s private property and doesn’t belong to the University.”

Patterson said although their jurisdiction may be different, Campus Security works closely with Kingston Police to ensure that students feel safe.

“We’re here as a resource and if we can assists with an off-campus issue we’re happy to help,” Patterson said. “If someone’s house got broken in to, we can offer some advice and tips to students who can tell their landlord, such as getting appropriate locks and lighting outside.”

Campus Security assists Kingston Police by maintaining contact with the Queen’s community.

“We have platforms to make contact with the community. These platforms include emails and alerts sent out over Twitter. It’s an opportunity for us to let Queen’s community know that an occurrence happened so students can make informed decisions,” Patterson said.

Campus Security has various safety services on campus to help combat security risks for students.

Campus Security runs Walksafe, a program similar to Walkhome, which has teams of two Security Staff escorts walk students from one point on campus to another.

The physical presence of Campus Security itself is a preventive measure for security risks on campus.

“We do foot patrolling and physical auditing to look at the safety of campus. We make sure there’s access [to] emergency phones and assess the physical setup of campus,” he said, adding that by physically patrolling campus, Campus Security provides a physical deterrent and allows for quick responses to calls for service.

While security incidents do occur, students for the most part are aware of Campus Security’s programs and ways to stay safe.

“I’d never want to single out why any individual occurrence happened,” Patterson said. “My experience is that our students are diligent and aware of personal safety. One of the things we’re finding is that people are aware of their environment and services provided. They do make reports to Campus Security, and we are able to send out alerts to ensure safety of community.”

With files from Clare Clancy

For general inquiries call Campus Security at 613-533-6733. For Emergencies phone 613-533-6111.

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