President Robert J. Zimmer: Update on Safety and Security

To: Faculty, Staff and Students
From: Robert J. Zimmer, President
Date: July 27, 2016
Subject: Update on Safety and Security 

In recent months members of our community have expressed growing concerns about issues of safety and security. Each instance of crime, particularly because of its human impact, must be taken seriously. The University has a longstanding commitment to working with our communities to promote safety and security and it is of the utmost importance that we respond effectively.

We are currently taking steps to help address these issues, building on approaches that have significantly reduced crime in our area over the last decade. Specifically:

  • The University is currently increasing overall police patrols to help enhance safety and prevent crime. In all, the University of Chicago Police Department is increasing the number of officers on active patrol by 28 percent, including some in the final stages of hiring and another group to be recruited in the coming year. As part of this increase, UCPD will field more mobile units and bicycle patrols, and have greater focus on areas with local increases in criminal activity, high-traffic areas, and parks.
  • The University has placed additional security officers in and around Harper Court and other University properties along 53rd St.
  • The Department of Safety and Security is continuing updates to security technology, including equipment to help officers identify license plates, cameras on more than 100 of the campus community’s emergency phones and use of key-card access for most campus buildings. The University also is working towards increased mobile safety technology to help members of our community contact police rapidly.
  • The UCPD has increased joint patrols with the Chicago Police Department, especially in areas that have seen recent incidents of crime, and is collaborating with CPD investigative units on such incidents.
  • I have spoken with the Mayor about crime in our community, informed him that we are increasing our resources, and expressed our desire to increase collaboration with the City and the CPD to address community concerns.
  • The Office of Civic Engagement will partner with UCPD to establish a robust community engagement program around security issues, in close partnership with elected officials, community leaders and residents and the CPD. This will help inform the community of safety measures and provide vehicles for continuous feedback from the community about safety concerns and policing efforts.

These steps will build on what we have learned through the results of the University’s actions on safety over the last decade. In 2007, the Campus Safety and Security Committee, consisting of faculty, students, staff, and a community representative, was charged with evaluating the University’s efforts to enhance safety. This resulted in significant investments in technology and additional personnel to improve safety and security operations. These actions have helped lead to a marked decrease in crime, including a 60 percent reduction in on-campus robberies and a drop of 19 percent for violent crimes within the UCPD patrol area since 2009.  In 2011, responding to requests from community leaders, the University expanded its commitment to neighboring communities by further extending the patrol area of the UCPD, providing an added layer of security in support of the CPD.

It is imperative that we actively work together to address these issues.  There is much work ahead. I am grateful for your engagement and active input, which are essential for us to make continued progress.