Sun. May 26th, 2024


On March 24, there was a stabbing in the West Chester Borough which led to three victims hospitalized. The stabbing occurred at the 50th block of Sharon Alley, just off of East Market Street, at around 7:30 p.m. CBS News reported that the condition of the stabbing victims aren’t publicly known, but they’re currently “receiving care in the hospital,” according to police. The borough released the following statement, “An investigation was conducted by the West Chester Police Department Criminal Division with assistance from the Chester County District Attorney Office and it was determined that six individuals were involved in an altercation which resulted in the stabbing.” 

Only a few days following the incident, the borough police arrested a suspect. The Daily Local reported, “Justin Piner, 18, of West Chester was identified as the suspect and will be charged with Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Possession of a Weapon, and related charges.” However, it still remains unclear what led to the incident. 

As a student of West Chester, I have been lucky to not experience or witness a crime in the borough. However, I am still cautious when walking at night, always locking my car and so on. When hearing of the stabbings, my concern regarding the safety of the borough and surrounding area peaked. 

The West Chester public information officer, Dave Marsh, said, “This incident is an isolated incident and there is no threat to our community.” Although there is no threat to the community due to this incident alone, it is still beneficial to be aware of the crime rates in Chester County. Crime Grade rated Chester County as a D+ crime grade. The grade is highly representative of the high rates of property crime in the area. Crime Grade’s interactive map depicts where the highest and lowest levels of crimes occur. This map shows that 1 in 20 residents may fall victim to a crime in central neighborhoods and 1 in 97 residents may fall victim to a crime in the southwest neighborhoods. In all, Chester County is 71% safer than other counties. 

This reporting does not make me feel frightened for my safety. Yet, it does increase my awareness regarding property damages due to the impact that property crime had on the county’s overall rating. Crime Grate rated the violent crime rate at an A, while the property crime grade was estimated to be a D-. It was then clear to me that the majority of crime is related to property damages, not violence. This low grade is dependent upon the high rate of vandalism and theft in the area. 

However, it is still important to remain safe at West Chester, or anywhere for that matter. There are several actions and resources you can use to ensure your safety. Firstly, there are several apps that you can download that alert you when crimes take place nearby. One of these apps that I recommend is the Citizen App. One main aspect of Citizen is to inform you why there is nearby police activity, helicopters overhead and road closures. In addition, Citizen also enhances your situational awareness by sending out alerts seconds after 911 calls for crimes such as robberies, violence and theft. Citizen also allows you to stay connected to your friends and family by seeing what activity is happening around them. My sister used this app when she studied in Philadelphia at Temple University and said it “made the day-to-day activities feel safer and more comfortable.” In addition to Citizen, there are also several similar apps available for download: Nextdoor, Patch, Police Scanner Radio & Fire and CodeRED Mobile Alert. West Chester University also has an app, WCU Safe, which will send you important safety alerts and provide instant access to campus safety resources. 

In addition to staying informed regarding nearby crime, it is also paramount to stay safe traveling where you live and places you visit. When traveling, knowing how to travel to your destination and use public transport is paramount in safety. One app that I highly rely on for travel when visiting different cities and countries is Citymapper. Citymapper is a public transit app and mapping service which displays transport options, usually with live timing, between any two locations in a supported city. This app also provides wheelchair-accessible routes. When using the app, you can select the city that you are currently in, whether that be Philadelphia, London or Amsterdam. Here, the app will then show you optional modes of transportation, such as by walking, biking, taking the train, trolley or bus or using a taxi service. In addition to this, the app will show you how long it will take you to reach the destination, along with how much it will cost to use your chosen transportation service. Staying safe in a city goes hand-in-hand with safe travel. 

There are also several actions that you can do to help ensure your safety. In order to stay safe on college campuses, ESTU has established four concrete ways to do so: 

  1. Reduce or eliminate opportunities that may make you a target.
  2. Increase awareness in places you’re most comfortable.
  3. Trust your instincts regardless of feeling embarrassed.
  4. Prepare your schedule daily with safety in mind. 

West Chester University also has several resources that assist student safety. The Department of Public Safety’s mission is “committed to enhancing the university experience by maintaining a safe, orderly and inviting environment for our students, employees and guests to study, work and enjoy all of what the university has to offer.” In addition, the WCU DPS is “committed to being campus guardians and to serve our community by treating all with respect, compassion, and fairness.” The DPS provides several services which include parking services, police services, security services and electronic security. They also have resources for clery compliance and annual security reports, which can be found here

For on and off-campus emergencies, the DPS recommends students to call 911. For non-emergencies, students can call 610-436-3311 or x3311. Questions and concerns regarding on-campus parking, parking services can be contacted by calling 610-436-3345. 


Sierra Williams is a fourth-year English and Political Science major.

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