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NDSP officer stresses safe choices

Mary Kate Malone | Thursday, August 31, 2006

Days after news of off-campus crimes rippled through campus, Notre Dame Security/Police (NDSP) Associate Director Phil Johnson asked senators to voice their concerns about safety at Wednesday’s Senate meeting.

On Aug. 23, a female Notre Dame student was allegedly assaulted in her Turtle Creek apartment. Three days later, another Notre Dame student was robbed and injured as he walked on Notre Dame Avenue.

NDSP is aiding in the investigation of these crimes, but students must work to preserve their own safety on and off campus, Johnson said.

“Your safety will be largely determined by how you organize your life, and how you choose to live. … You have to take responsibility for your own safety,” Johnson said. “You have to be aware of your surroundings and know what kind of crimes are being committed.”

Assuring senators that NDSP offers a wide range of services to help keep students safe on and off campus, Johnson said students should not be afraid to explore areas beyond the University’s boundaries.

“I don’t think anything that’s happened in recent times is the kind of thing that should keep you from experiencing any of the opportunities … that exist on campus or off campus,” Johnson said.

However, NDSP’s jurisdiction is limited to campus and the roadways that run adjacent to it, Johnson said.

“We can’t patrol Notre Dame Avenue the same way we patrol Holy Cross Drive,” he said.

NDSP has a “working relationship” with other police forces from South Bend and St. Joseph County, he said, allowing Notre Dame officers to assist in crimes off-campus should those agencies request it.

In addition, NDSP issues crime alerts via e-mail and recently began a program in collaboration with student government to keep students updated on crimes taking place off-campus, Johnson said.

These efforts, along with self-defense programs, SafeWalk and off-campus information sessions are meant to help students feel safer on campus, Johnson said.

Chief Executive Assistant Liz Brown asked Johnson to provide better police coverage near the edge of campus, such as the area near the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

“When you’re walking back [from Turtle Creek], you never see officers in that area,” Brown said.

Johnson assured her that NDSP officers do pay attention to the perimeter of campus and they encourage other police agencies to do so as well.

“But we don’t have an omnipresent force,” he said. “We can’t be everywhere.”

In other Senate news:

u Student body president Lizzi Shappell said she has been working with the Gender Issues Committee on Notre Dame’s first-ever eating disorder conference, planned for spring semester. Shappell also is working with Community Relations Committee chair Josh Pasquesi to “reconnect” with the South Bend Common Council regarding the city’s controversial ordinance amendment regarding alcohol and noise violations.

u Student body vice president Bill Andrichik said he has been working on the student government Web site. Student government has purchased its own license for the software, he said, so future administrations “won’t have to start from ground zero” when creating their Web site.

uKnott Hall senator Kevin Smith was approved as Judicial Council liaison.

u Lewis Hall senator Ashlee Wright was approved to sit on the University Library Committee on Libraries.

u Kevin Gimber was ap-proved as co-chair for the Gender Issues Committee.