UT responding to latest murder with heightened security measures

Since this latest murder occurred on campus, officials at the University of Texas are stepping up security in a major way.

From additional officers to the use of safety escort programs, UTPD is doing what it can to make students feel safe on campus.

University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves made a promise to all the students that call UT home.

“To our students, you expect to be safe on our campus, and as president, I am taking steps to achieve this and improve safety on the University of Texas,” said Fenves. 

The way Fenves is working to increase safety and security on campus is a long list of changes, some students are already noticing.

“To date UTPD has increased their walking, bike and vehicular patrols on campus, working 12 hours on and 12 hours off,” said University of Texas Associate Vice President of Campus Safety and Security Bob Harkins. 

UTPD will have help from other officers in the area as well.

“The Austin Police Department has also offered 20 officers that are visiting on campus, or patrolling on campus, with mounted patrols, vehicular patrols and bike patrols, as well as some of our surrounding off campus areas that are close to campus,” said Harkins.  

20 Texas Departments of Public Safety officers will also help with patrols on campus.

“And this morning I asked Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw to have his agency conduct a comprehensive safety and security review of our campus,” Fenves said. 

Fenves expects to add security cameras, lighting and other safety features to vulnerable parts of campus, but warns that no matter how much technology is used, students will have to take steps on their own to ensure their safety.

“I would ask you not to walk distracted. I think we all around campus know what I'm talking about. Walking, concentrating on my phone, my earbuds in, and I don't know what's around me,” said Harkins. 

UTPD will also partner with SURE Walk program directors. The program currently allows students to call or meet volunteers that will walk them home or to their vehicle between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
“Our productivity has gone up 400% or our usage has gone up 400% since the incident itself,  so people are definitely reacting in the sense that they want this service,” SURE Walk Director Krishan Sachdev said. 

Some students said they are already taking extra precautions.

“I mean, I'm definitely going to be more cautious walking around in the dark. I won't be on my phone, I'm going to make sure I have somebody with me at all times, so I mean it's made me a little, put me a little bit on edge for sure,” said Lexie Brown, a senior at UT.

The director of SURE Walk said it’s also working on a GPS monitored cellphone application that would track students and allow them to alert police of their exact location if an incident occurs. The company expects the app to be completed around May.