Campus safety is something UT officials and, UTPD have been looking into this week after the murder of Haruka Weiser. With the announcement the suspect was a homeless teen, now some are looking at the growing homeless population near west campus.
Chris Shirey makes his home on the streets of Austin. He said the area west of the University of Texas Campus also known as “The Drag” is one of his favorite spots. “The students they come from all over the world, it's really like an amazing school, I love this place,” he said.
Shirey said he was shocked to hear the news of Weiser being murdered on the campus. “It's heart wrenching to hear that it happened in the first place and that it's such a young person.”
17-year-old Meechaiel Criner is behind bars for the crime. But UT Police said they are still stepping up patrols. Chief David Carter works for the University of Texas Police Department. “We understand that there are areas of concern west of campus and that is something we work with APD frequently on, we actively patrol that, we are going to be doubling our efforts on that,” he said.
According to krimelab.com, in the last year there have been nearly 300 criminal cases in a one mile radius around “The Drag.” The more serious being 15 assaults, three of which were sexual. There were 20 drug related incidents, Nearly 40 criminal trespassing cases and more than 20 theft related incidents.
”We are not singling out any one group of people, but we need to address threats wherever they may be found,” Chief Carter said.
Shirey said he supports the efforts of local law enforcement. “It's just a natural reaction that people are going to be a little bit more nervous and watchful now. The cops do take seriously violent crime, and I appreciate that.” But he said he still feels safe in the area he frequently calls home. “The truth is the one in two million people that would have done that thing is in jail now, right? So it's already that much safer. I am glad they did their job, just one of the things that I love about the city, it's a safe place,” he said.
Chief Carter also said a safe community requires good engagement from the people with local law enforcement. He said students or those around campus should always report anything or anyone suspicious.