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NDSP, South Bend PD share student safety tips

| Wednesday, October 7, 2015

At Wednesday evening’s Student Safety Summit, local and campus police offered advice to students on how best to ensure their safety both on and off campus.

The seven officers on the panel represented both the Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) and the South Bend Police Department (SBPD). Associate vice president of campus security Mike Seamon began the discussion by acknowledging the emphasis campus and local police place on student security.

“Our top priority is the safety of all our faculty, staff, students and guests,” Seamon said.

The panelists stressed the importance of using common sense to avoid unnecessarily dangerous situations. South Bend Police Captain Jeff Rynearson said taking preventative measures is essential.

“Be smart. Have a plan in place before you go out,” Rynearson said.

Walking alone is never a good idea, Rynearson said, and students should always have a plan to get home and a group or buddy to walk home with.

“We have done a fantastic job of revitalizing the area, but there are still some higher crime areas, especially at night ” Rynearson said.

In light of this, Lieutenant Tim Williams said it is imperative that students remain vigilant both on and off-campus.

“Crime is all about opportunity,” Williams said. “We don’t want you to be an easy target.”

According to NDSP Deputy Chief Keri Kei Shibata, the most prevalent crime on campus is theft of unattended property. Cases of forced entry in dorm room burglaries are extremely rare, so the best prevention is to lock doors.

In the wake of recent active shooter situations like last week’s shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, Shibata also discussed the measures that are in place should such a situation arise at Notre Dame. NDSP officers are trained annually on how to respond to active violence on campus, she said. The ND Alert system is also an essential part of the response to possible violence on campus as it allows information to reach students within seconds, she said.

St. Joseph County Sheriff Mike Grzegorek spoke about basic safety knowledge for off-campus students. He said in addition to keeping doors and windows locked, keeping curtains drawn to prevent people from looking into homes is an often-overlooked safety measure. He said reaching out to neighbors can also be a useful step in protecting home when you are not there.

“Build strong relationships with your neighbors so that when you are gone, they can help,” Grzegorek said.

The panelists ended their presentation by emphasizing the importance of looking out for others in the community.

“The best way to promote safety is for everyone to help each other,” Williams said.

Rynearson stressed the importance of students using their instincts when it comes to personal safety.

“If you feel something in your gut, don’t go into that situation,” Rynearson said. “We all have a sixth sense, so use it.”

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