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DPS reports drop in violent crime, spike in bike thefts

UCS members discuss new DPS initiatives aimed at increasing safety, including a video series

Bicycle thefts on or near campus have quadrupled this semester, said Paul Shanley, deputy chief of police for the Department of Public Safety, at the Undergraduate Council of Students general body meeting Wednesday.

Shanley and Michelle Nuey, manager of community relations and outreach for DPS, addressed the council about DPS’ efforts to reach the student body through informational initiatives.

“We’re really not sure who’s doing it,” Shanley said of the bike thefts, though he added that DPS had apprehended a suspect.

While bike thefts specifically have seen a recent spike, violent crime has decreased significantly, he said, which he attributed to the yellow-jacketed guards strategically assigned to spots throughout campus. “They are an additional set of people we set out to be eyes and ears, and who you can talk to if you have a problem,” he said.

Laptop thefts have also seen a recent drop, Nuey said, adding that she thinks “the decrease in laptop theft can be attributed to our staff being active in encouraging students to register their property.”

Many Brown community members do not fully understand how DPS goes about its duties, Shanley said. “I call it a Disney operation — people see all that and they don’t understand what it takes to arrive at that.”

DPS has a solid relationship with the Providence Police Department, he said, adding that the two agencies collaborate and exchange information and crime trends. “Providence has ultimate jurisdiction in the city,” he said. “Anything major, any felony, they’ll come in and take over the investigation. For misdemeanors and other matters, we’ll handle it,” he said, adding that DPS “probably takes care of 90 percent of the police work here.”

Shanley stressed DPS’ emphasis on student outreach as a means of increasing safety on campus. “We want to make you aware of who we are and what we have to offer before something happens,” he said.

But he noted that students still need to be proactive about their own safety. “We really preach prevention,” he said, citing the importance of remaining vigilant while walking around campus. “We consider ourselves a very customer service-oriented department, and you are our customers.”

Nuey said that partnerships between DPS and student groups are key to making safety services accessible. “I’m looking to engage all the time with staff and students and look for new ways of … educating the community on crime prevention,” she said. She cited safety initiatives such as the SafeWalk program, the walking service on campus, and Operation Identification, which helps students register their property with DPS.

“There is a lot going on across the country in regards to police brutality, and concern across the board in incidents that have occurred,” Nuey said.

“We try to be proactive as an agency … about issues that affect the Brown community,” she said, citing DPS’ discussions with the NAACP chapter at Brown, the Brotherhood, a student group aiming to provide a safe space for black men, and the LGBTQ Center. “We have been fortunate to have dialogue with these groups, and we haven’t had any significant grievances from these groups,” she said. “We try to keep these communication lines open — we’re not afraid to talk about these issues.”

DPS unveiled several new safety initiatives this year, Nuey said, citing four safety videos that it posted on its website featuring Brown student actors, with four more videos to come in 2015. “We wanted to make it fun — we didn’t want to bog students down with the scary crime issues,” Nuey said. “We wanted to put these issues in front of students in a fun and realistic way.”

The recently created Bear Tips program lets students who demonstrate safe behavior earn Bear Tips Points that can be exchanged for safety-related merchandise at the Brown Bookstore, Nuey said. When interacting with students, DPS officers can also distribute Bear Tips coins to those who display safe behavior.

The council also passed a resolution in support of increasing the student activities fee paid by each undergraduate from $250 to $271. Many council members supported the increase due to the current student activities budget deficit of approximately $162,000.

Student groups’ funding needs would be better served by raising the student activities fee than by demanding more funds from the University, said UCS President Maahika Srinivasan ’15. “Brown is running a huge deficit … so we don’t feel right asking for that kind of money, and we probably wouldn’t get that kind of money,” she said, adding that “when we ask for more money, we’re not asking them to increase tuition, we’re asking for a slightly larger piece of the pie” that is the overall University budget.

The council concluded its meeting by categorizing several student groups. Project LETS, a student intervention team and nonprofit organization that raises awareness for mental illness and suicide prevention, was categorized as a Category S group. Students for Samaritans, a student group dealing with mental health and suicide prevention, was approved to move up from Category 2 to Category 3 after group members told the council they need more funding for events such as panels of speakers. The Intercollegiate Finance Journal was also approved as a Category 3 group after some of its members requested additional funds for printing more issues and bringing in speakers.

The Brown RISD Coffee Society, a group that would host weekly meetings to discuss the history and production of coffee and hold monthly coffee tastings, was approved as a Category 1 group. The Haitian Student Association, which aims to educate the community about Haitian culture and history and to lead social and cultural initiatives in Haiti, was approved as a Category 1 group.

The Undergraduate Latino Outreach and Advocacy Group was approved to be reconstituted under the new name La Alianza Latina.



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