UT Police expands alert system to increase safety

The University of Texas Police Department says they're increasing their alert system to make students aware of more incidents both on and off campus.

This follows a series of incidents reported over the past few months.

UT Police Chief David Carter says universities are legally required to provide information on serious crimes that occur on campus or close proximity. But, they are now expanding that to alert students of all types of crimes.

"Perhaps those were not reported by us because they were not exactly, they weren't within the reportable area that's according to law. What we do feel is that you know what, the community has an interest in this and they can also help us," says UT Police Chief David Carter.

They can help by reporting something they see or avoiding the area. Several incidents have happened on campus over the past few months: a groping incident, indecent exposure, a man was accused of taking inappropriate photos and a female student reporting being assaulted.

"With the support of the president's office and the university, we were able to grow our force and that was important. Unfortunately, we had two significant tragedies over the past couple of years. That showed the importance of having these resources available to us," says Chief Carter.

UTPD is authorized to have 104 commissioned officers, they will hit that number this Spring. It's a vast increase from 67 in 2013. UT police have also worked with APD to map out a larger area to focus on, where the majority of students walk and live. It covers part of East Austin, to 15th Street, to North Lamar to 30th Street. Both departments will tackle crime within that perimeter.

"UTPD officers also will go and canvass the area, look and see if they can locate a suspect working with APD. If we discover a suspect, we'll detain that person and turn them over to APD," says Chief Carter.  

Students have also been working hard to make their own changes. Isaiah Carter came up with a lighting study in wake of the death of Haruka Weiser.

"I thought it would be important for us to just start analyzing the streets and what we consider safety factors: lighting, security cameras, sidewalks," says Isaiah Carter. UT student.

The City of Austin has jumped on board to help with the study and will soon be presenting ideas to the mayor and city council. SafeHorns has also been involved, knowing student safety should be first for everyone.

"When USC had a murder on their campus, within two weeks they not only added more patrol, they added infrastructure changes. We have not done any of that. I think the University of Texas is better than that and so is the City," says Joell McNew, SafeHorns.

You can learn more about the lighting study and take part this Thursday, January 18: