Article by Taylor Perkins
What may have first grabbed students’ attention about safety on campus was the initial crime report sent out in September about car thefts in Smith Hall’s parking lot. Another was released in November.
“In September we had some car break ins and the two individuals who were going through the parking lot followed some students into Smith Hall. In the November [incident] one car was broken into one night and they broke into two more the next night,” the Director of Safety and Security Sarene Deeds said about the report.
According to the Drury Campus Crime Report published in 2017 over the 2016 school year there were no motor vehicle thefts. With the recent reports of car break ins and thefts, though, students need to be aware that the threat is still very present. there are steps that they can take to protect themselves and their possessions.
Junior Angel Wade lives in on campus housing and learned from personal experience.
“I had my car broken into and all of my spare change stolen. They did not break any windows thankfully but the fact that someone got into my car is terrifying. I highly recommend locking your car, making sure your windows are rolled up and not leave anything valuable in your car just to be safe,” Wade said.
Deeds emphasized the importance of not leaving anything in your car.
“The most important thing I can tell our students as far as property theft goes is do not leave your property in your car, especially where it can be seen,” Deeds said.
She said that car and property theft is not confined to the Drury campus, that she knows it has affected Evangel University and the entirety of the city of Springfield.
If students, faculty or staff feel unsafe Deeds said that they should trust their gut and call security.
“If anything doesn’t quite look right call security and we will make that determination. We will look into it… We don’t mind getting those calls if it helps us know where to go,” Deeds said.
When looking at the future of security and safety on campus Drury’s Springfield Police substation officer, Officer Walker, has been working on finalizing his crime prevention through environmental design report.
Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) is defined as a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through environmental design, according to the International CPTEP Association website.
Officer Walker said that CPTED allows one to design the environment to get people to do what you want them to do. He said this is because of a herd mentality.
“If you want people to walk a certain way you can design the environment for them to go a certain way. It is done by incorporating landscaping and vegetation,” Walker said.
On campus he pointed out that Drury has pretty wide sidewalks. CPTED recommends having the sidewalks be at least six feet long. He said that this promotes walkability on campus.
“You want people to be outside because that puts eyes on the street, there will be witnesses. No one wants to be seen committing a crime,” Walker said.
This is also taken into consideration with placements of windows. At the library desks are set up in front of the large windows with the chairs facing out to the street. As Walker said, potential burglars do not want to be seen. Putting people in residential buildings facing the streets may give potential criminals the idea that they have witnesses. This, according to CPTED, will hopefully reduce crime.
Having witnesses who can properly identify a suspect is also incredibly important, according to Walker. One way this is done is by having the appropriate lighting. On Drury’s campus right now there is a lot of acorn lighting, lighting that creates a glare and illuminates upwards versus at eye level or below. He said that these lights have a negative environmental impact but also distort color because they do not reflect light as well.
This color distortion hurts a witness’s ability to identify a potential suspect.
“LEDs gives off white light that reflects color so you can identify someone walking through parking lot,” Walker said.
He gave an example of someone walking across the street in a red sweater and blue jeans. With the current acorn lighting it may look like the person is wearing a brown outfit. With LEDs a witness can clearly see the red sweater and blue jeans.
Another way that CPTED works is by trimming vegetation which can help shape security on campus.
“No vegetation is under six feet and nothing is above two feet so that you have a nice four foot window where you cannot hide,” he said.
Again, this visibility helps witnesses properly see potential suspects. This is why Walker also likes the wrought iron fence around Harrison Field opposed to some other fencing options.
This type of fencing is aesthetically appealing but it also lets people see in and out. Walker said that fencing also helps establish boundaries between public and private spaces. Right now that line is pretty blurry especially in between the sidewalks and the parking lots.
His idea is to put fences around the parking lots that have cameras at the gates so that less people will cut through the dimly lit parking lots throughout the night. Having cameras on the gates would also enable security and police to have access to photos of everyone who came and went from a specific parking lot.
While fences have not been put in place yet there are some other steps security has already taken.
“We have upgraded over $300,000 of access controls and cameras [around campus,]” Deeds said.
According to Deeds, Drury Facilities has also put new LED lights in some parking lots and residential areas. There are now new access points at Stone Chapel and the Diversity Center.
“We want to design the environment for the normal user to feel safe and the abnormal user to be easily identified so they stay away and go somewhere else,” Walker said.
Walker has composed a report that is over 100 pages using CPTED. In the report he discussed what the Drury campus could change to improve its’ safety, but it also recognizes what Drury is doing well. The report will go to the Trustees and there is a process for the potential suggestions to be implemented.
Deeds emphasized that if any student feels unsafe on campus that they should call security and they will escort students to the residence halls, apartments or cars. The emergency number for Drury security is (417) 873-7911 and the non-emergency number is (417) 873-7400.