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Crime hotspots: University Village and Lot 15

Submitted by Jacob Ellerbee on November 20, 2013 – 11:46 amNo Comment

 

Photo by Jacob Ellerbee

An analysis conducted by The Forum has identified University Village, Lot 15 and Lot 10 as three areas on campus experiencing the most crime over the course of a 10-week period this semester, according to reports filed in the UALR crime database.

The three areas identified were also the locations of some of the most violent and severe types of crimes committed on campus.

Between Sept. 7 and Nov. 14, there were 10 incidents originating from University Village. Among the 10 incidents, half of them involved theft and vehicles.

Graphic by Byron Buslig

Of the six incidents reported in Lot 15, at least two violent crimes were committed. This includes an instance of kidnapping and domestic battering in the 3rd degree. Another includes an act classified as criminal mischief in the 2nd degree.

Jennifer Sibley, the crime prevention officer at UALR, said during the first month of school, the exit gate was broken at University Village.

She said now some of the problems arise from cars “piggybacking” into the lot, or having a car drive near the bumper of the car in front and drive through successively with only one card swipe.

“We do have an officer that sits over there seven nights a week from 8-11 p.m. and that discourages that. [Piggybacking] happens a lot when we’re not sitting there and we know that,” Sibley said.

As of 1:30 p.m. Nov. 18 , two arms of gates were broken off in Lot 15 and another arm has been in a permanent upright position, allowing free entry and exit to the parking lot near residence halls.

The arms of these entry and exit gates are made in-house at UALR by facilities maintenance.

Dave Millay, associate vice chancellor of facilities maintenance, said the arms are made of standard spruce wood.

“We buy the lumber and then usually paint them ourselves. To buy one, paint it and install it, it’s less than $50. It’s not expensive,” Millay said.

Millay said that previously, instead of spruce wood, standard PVC pipe was used.

“We used to have PVC pipe that served the purpose of the arm, and the question I get quite often is ‘Well, people keep breaking these things off, why don’t you make them out of steel or aluminum or something that won’t break?’ Well, the answer to that is, I want them to break so that the damage doesn’t happen to the gate itself.”

Millay added that the mechanisms used to make the arms rise and lower can get damaged.

“I’d much rather have someone who is going to do vandalism just have them break the arm off and replace it, rather than have to replace the whole gate,” Millay said.

“The only time I can think of when there’s an extended period of a gate being out of service…is when there’s a part required and it could be a mechanical component that facilities management needs to buy and install,” Millay said.

Millay also said the current gate system in place was here when he began working on campus and that they are typical of many universities.

When asked if there are any alternatives to securing these lots besides using a pieces of spruce lumber, Millay said other systems are expensive and possibly more problematic.

“The gate system that we have here, the mechanisms were here when I came here. They are typical of all the universities that I’ve ever visited,” he said.

“There are some systems where you have bollards that disappear into the ground and then come back up and so forth,” Millay said. Adding that “it’s very very expensive to do.”

“These [gates] are basically economical and basically reliable,” Millay said. “Like with any piece of mechanical equipment, you’re going to have failures. And outside, areas like that [Lot 15], you’re going to have some vandalism.”

Sibley said the high crime rate cannot be attributed to a gate system or non-functioning gate, but for where the lot is located.

“It is probably the least desirable location on campus, in my opinion, for vehicles,” Sibley said.

“Just because of where it’s located- it’s on the corner of 28th and Fairpark- and that’s not a good area,” Sibley said.

There are several things that can be done to help combat the higher rate of crime in these areas, with Sibley and Millay each offering ideas of ways to help deter crime.

Sibley said the arrival of Edward L. Smith, chief of police, DPS has been proactive in terms of patrolling. “Now, when the officers do patrol in their vehicles at night, their blue lights are flashing [as they go] through parking lots. So that’s kind of like a huge sign: guess what? We’re here.”

“If you see something that doesn’t fit, something that doesn’t look right, call us,” Sibley said.

Sibley said people shouldn’t hesitate to contact DPS if they feel uncomfortable or see something troubling because they can ask anyone to produce their student identification card, per university policy. “As university police, we can walk up to any person on this campus and ask for id and they have to show it to us,” Sibley said. “It doesn’t matter who you are.”

Millay said the annual campus lighting walk helps facilities maintenance know where they should install new lighting or replace burnt out bulbs, which can help keep areas illuminated properly.

“Tree limbs grow over time and once in a while, they’ll start to get in the way of the lighting, so we need to trim those,” Millay said

“That’s not only so that the light can find its way to where it needs to, but its so as you’re walking, you can see someone that might be lurking otherwise.”

Millay said the campus routinely undergoes “CPTED” (pronounced: sept-ed), or crime prevention through environmental design, audits. These audits help campus officials identify possible weak points on campus.

“I don’t think there’s a silver bullet,” Millay said of the crime hot spots on campus.

“If there was one answer that was going to solve our problems, I’m sure people smarter than me would have thought of it and put it in place by now. But, I think it’s a lot of little things that make the difference.”

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