Facility Services and the University Police Department are collaborating to prevent crime on campus through environmental design with the addition of four streetlights, four walkway lights and shrubbery trimming.
A student sent an email to University Police, notifying them of some dark spots on campus. She was concerned when walking on campus at night. University Police then notified Senior Maintenance Zone Supervisor Ricky Allen of the issue.
Maintenance Manager John Sportsman said Allen came in after-hours to look at the concerned spots on campus with the custodial manager. They took down notes on areas of concern.
The main problem areas noted were Wells and Brown Halls. Allen then shared their findings with Sportsman. Sportsman decided from there what direction to take.
Additional lighting will be put up in front of Wells and Brown Halls. A couple of trees were cut back surrounding Brown Hall.
“He (Allen) came to me with a proposal, and we decided to go ahead and put up some more walkway lights, four more lights and four more street lights,” Sportsman said. “That’s what you can expect to see around that area over there.”
University Police Chief Clarence Green said each year University Police, Residential Life and Facility Services conduct a safety walk, looking for ways to enhance the environment on campus. Over the past 15 years, over 300 lights have been put up around campus, along with additional pathways, reducing shrubbery and cutting back canopy trees.
Green said vehicle damage and vehicle break-ins have significantly decreased. Prior to the addition of lighting, an average of 50 vehicle damages and break-in crimes happened annually, that number is down to 10 annually. Green said that decrease also correlates with the use of student security patrol.
In that time period, Green said University Police have also seen a decrease in reports of nuisance behavior.
Green said Wells and Brown Halls have been a dark spot of concern for the past couple of years.
“We had added some different solutions, it just never was satisfactory,” Green said. “To make additions, you would add a bigger low-pressure sodium light, still couldn't see. You would add the metal halo light, that was the last thing we added, it was over-blinding. This is going to be a better solution with additional poles, using LED lighting, positioning the lighting at different angles. Hopefully it works, you gotta be willing to try different things, but I think this will work.”
Facility Services Director Allen Mays said most of the time, Facility Services receives work orders following annual safety walks.
“I think we try to stay pretty proactive,” Mays said. “When things come to us from a reaction standpoint like that, we try and act on it pretty quickly.”
Two weeks ago, holes were drilled and concrete was laid for the additional lighting. Sportsman said the wires will likely be pulled and poles set this week. The project is expected to be completed within the next couple of weeks, weather permitting.
“If a student has a concern, especially a safety concern, please let us know just as soon as they can,” Mays said. “Obviously we try to react just as quickly as we can.”