Spring Safety Update

May 9, 2022

To: Members of the University Community
From: Eric Heath, Associate Vice President for Safety & Security
Subject: Spring Safety Update
Date: May 9, 2022

In December the University outlined a host of public safety efforts aimed at helping protect our campus and community, while launching new efforts to partner with South Side communities in preventing violence.

We have made progress on many fronts and are already seeing a positive impact. As previously committed, we will share regular updates about progress on public safety initiatives. Derek Douglas, Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs, and I shared updates on these initiatives at the University’s Spring Quarter Update webinar. Later in Spring Quarter, you will hear more concerning next steps for a new fund designed to reduce violence by supporting partnerships between the University and community-based organizations. To help reinforce household safety, the University is preparing a program to provide video doorbells to local residents at no cost – we will share more details on this initiative soon. Recently the University announced the launch of the Public Safety Advisory Council, which will engage campus and community members to provide input and feedback on the University’s safety and security efforts.

I write today with an update about recent progress on our public safety measures, as well as important reminders about safety resources available to members of the University community.

Update on our Safety Efforts

The University has taken a number of safety-related steps over the past few months, including:

  • New Chief of Police: Kyle Bowman joined the University on April 4 as the new chief of police for the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD). He will be working to develop and enhance UCPD’s ongoing crime prevention and community engagement strategies. We will be announcing opportunities to meet with Chief Bowman in the coming weeks.
  • Launching Strategic Operations Center: We are now in phase one of launching our new Strategic Operations Center. UCPD personnel are now actively monitoring technology and intelligence in real time and passing it on to officers in the field. This work is already making a positive impact. We are working with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department to formalize intelligence sharing and technology improvements on and around campus, and these and other enhancements to the Center will continue to be made throughout the remainder of the academic year.
  • Safety Ambassador Program Expansion:
    1. We expanded our campus safety ambassador program to increase the hours and locations of coverage for on-campus safety ambassador locations.
    2. You may have seen new security cars with distinctive green lights around campus, in the afternoons and evenings. These are from a second contract security provider, P4 Security Solutions, which is supplementing the services from Allied Universal (the University’s main partner for the safety ambassador program). The “green light” cars from P4 have begun safety ambassador patrols on and around campus seven days a week.
  • Enhanced Security Technology: The University has upgraded camera and license plate-reader technology on and around campus. In recent months the University has worked with local elected officials and City of Chicago leadership on additional security technology in UCPD’s extended patrol area. Following these discussions and with the support of local aldermen, the University recently informed the city of our intention to donate funds that will allow the city to deploy additional cameras and license plate readers in the extended patrol area.
  • Transportation Improvements: Since November, the University has made numerous improvements to the transportation system, including the following:
    1. Improved service hours for the UGo NightRide shuttle service as well as improved wait times on the UGo South Route. For more details, visit the transportation service enhancements webpage.
    2. Expanded the Lyft Ride Smart program for students to seven nights a week with extended hours through the end of the 2021-22 academic year.
    3. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has improved early morning and evening service hours for the CTA’s 171 and 172 routes, which serve the Hyde Park campus area. For more details, visit the CTA expanded hours webpage.
    4. DSS is working with a transportation consulting firm this quarter to assess our transportation network and continue making strategic access improvements across the system. You can give feedback on transportation anytime using an online form.

Safety Resources

In addition to the new initiatives outlined above, we continue to offer a wide range of safety-related resources, including:

Safety is a paramount priority for the University of Chicago, and the Department of Safety & Security (DSS) operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to promote safety on campus and in the extended patrol area surrounding campus. We value your feedback as we continue to enhance and improve our safety resources. I encourage you to contact our team with any questions or suggestions. I wish you a safe and productive remainder of Spring Quarter.