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DPS offers program to assess vulnerabilities in off-campus residences

Officers provide suggestions for students on how to make off-campus living more secure

Contributing Writer
Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Students living within the Department of Public Safety jurisdiction will now be able to have an officer assess the safety of their homes and provide useful information on how to make their off-campus residences more secure. Twelve students have taken part in the program so far.

The Department of Public Safety is offering a program to allow students living in off-campus residences under DPS geographic jurisdiction to assess the security of their homes. The Residential Security Vulnerability Assessment Program has been offered since last fall, wrote DPS Officer Kelly Mitchell in an email to The Herald. 

Students start by filling out a short questionnaire on the DPS website, which asks questions about home ownership, security concerns and past vulnerabilities, according to the program’s website. Then, an officer from DPS contacts the student to set up a convenient time for the assessment, Mitchell wrote. During the evaluation, the officer tours the home and takes notes using a checklist to help formulate a final report. The document, which is given to the student after the assessment, discusses any vulnerabilities in the residence and provides suggestions to increase security. Students can either use the report themselves to make improvements or take it to their landlord, Mitchell wrote. Students can also follow up with DPS if they have any concerns after the assessment. Twelve students have used the program so far, Mitchell wrote.

Mitchell decided to start offering the program after she attended a three-day training seminar with the National Institute of Crime Prevention, she wrote. The workshop focused on “crime prevention through environmental design,” a multidisciplinary approach to deterring crime through the use of buildings and other public spaces. “After attending the seminar, I wanted to expand our outreach initiatives as it applies to the ‘whole community,’” Mitchell wrote. “I took bits and pieces from other programs.”

Harrison White ’19 said that while he hasn’t used the DPS service, he does take steps to make sure his off-campus residence is secure. “We lock our doors,” White said. “Our landlord came by recently because we had a window open, and he freaked out at us for having a window open, so now we lock our windows.”

Upgrading window and door locks, closing the blinds and moving large items such as garbage cans away from windows are all tactics students can use to reduce vulnerabilities in their homes, Mitchell wrote. “Keeping porch lights on 24/7 is a plus,” Mitchell added. “With the new energy-efficient light bulbs, it costs pennies. The light not only assists residents entering and exiting, it provides light for those walking.”

“Our recommendations are not fool-proof, but will certainly maximize residential safety. It is our hope that we will assist in improving the quality of life for students and our neighboring communities,” Mitchell wrote.

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