In response to recent acts of crime that have occurred in the borough, Student Government Association and Off Campus Commuters Association held a Student Safety Forum on Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m. in Sykes Student Union. Director of Public Safety, Chief Michael Bicking, Corporal Pam Baumann of the WCPD, Officer Dave Hammond of the WCPD and Sergeant William Camlin of West Goshen Police spoke to students and were available for questions about crime activity on and around campus. As reported by the Department of Public Safety, six incidents occurred between July 31 and September 3. Campus safety alerts were released for each of the incidents, one of which occurred on campus behind Hollinger Field House. Chief Bicking told students at the forum that a robbery occurred on Saturday, Sept. 30 near Hollinger Field and three arrests were made. A safety alert was not released since all assailants were arrested.
The Clery Act states that universities must report crimes on and around the campus. Bicking told students that they are reporting crimes in any area. He said, “It’s important for you to know what’s happening to our student body. We are reporting more than the law requires.”
He told students that alcohol and substance abuse as well as walking around late at night increase the probability of being a victim. He encouraged students to walk with others because there is safety in numbers. Officer Hammond said that many of the robberies were crimes of opportunity. He told students to be aware of their surroundings and to walk with a purpose. Intoxication as well as talking on cell phones while walking increases the likelihood of a crime.
Hammond told students that there have been fewer robberies in the borough this year than in recent years. In 2003, there were 48 robberies; in 2004, there were 33 and in 2005, there were 44. As of Oct. 1, 2006, there have been 26 robberies and there is a projection of 38.42 robberies based on statistics from the year thus far. Arrests were made in more than 1/3 of this year’s robberies.
Most of the robberies are taking place in southeast West Chester, where many students live. In a number of them, robberies were made using physical force, which the police call strong armed, rather than armed by fire. Hammond advised students to walk down Walnut Street because it is well-lit. He also said that Church Street is statistically safer but is darker than Walnut Street.
Corporal Baumann of West Chester Borough Police told students to call the police immediately to increase chances of catching the offenders. She also said that many of the robberies are being perceived as attacks but in most cases, victims have not been assaulted. Baumann encouraged students not to fight against thieves because a robbery could turn into an attack.
Students asked questions pertaining to underage citations given on campus and in the borough. Officer Hammond told students that cracking down on nuisance crimes eliminates crimes of opportunity as well as lowers the overall crime rate.