In the wake of the off-campus assaults on four Temple students and a delayed response from the university that spurred negative feedback from the student body, the university will review its off-campus patrolling and alert policy, a campus police official said.
Campus police officers, acting under the jurisdiction of Campus Safety Services, have established patrolling borders that extend as far as 16th Street to the west, Susquehanna Avenue in the north, Jefferson Street in the south and Ninth Street in the east.
The three separate incidents that took place on the evening of March 21 occurred within a half hour of each other and within one to two blocks of CSS’s patrolling borders.
Pennsylvania state law allows for campus police forces to patrol, investigate and make arrests within 500 yards of any property owned or controlled by any public or state-related university.
While the state law allows campus police to patrol out to 500 yards, it does not require that they do so, nor does it state how campus police must patrol their jurisdiction. CSS’s current patrolling boundaries do not extend the full-length of its allowed jurisdiction in most areas, however campus police have a “priority response zone” extending a few blocks beyond the patrolling zone in which they may respond to an ongoing crime or incident, Acting Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said.
In response to the attacks and other instances of requests from students for police response west of campus, Leone said CSS will explore the possibilities of expanding their patrolling area west of Main Campus out to 17th Street.
An online petition asking Temple to work with Philadelphia police to extend its patrol area to 18th Street has gained more than 2,100 supporters since it was posted by Jeffrey Dugan on March 24, three days after the attacks.
Leone said increasing the patrol zone to 18th Street would potentially push campus police’s priority response zone to beyond the 500 yard boundary, creating legal issues to any arrests made in that area.
CSS first learned of the attacks when the father of the student who was hit by a brick called the CSS substation on Polett Walk around 8 p.m., Leone said. From there, the message was relayed to a Temple detective who confirmed with the 22nd Philadelphia Police Precinct before going to Hahnemann University Hospital around 9 p.m. to interview the victim.
The university did not learn of the second attack until Sunday morning, March 23, and did not learn of the third attack until it was reported by the media that Monday, Leone said.
Leone said by the time police learned of the incident, they determined the immediate threat from the suspects had passed, and decided not to send out an alert, which is only typically done when officials determine students need to take immediate action.
However in the aftermath of the attacks with a negative student reaction to the response by the university, Leone said CSS and the administration would discuss altering the alert system to send out advisory messages with information when officials learn about off-campus incidents, which they are not required to report by state or federal law.
Student Body President Darin Bartholomew said the university’s patrol zone, which follows a non-symmetrical path around campus, creates confusion for students who live outside its boundaries, likening its shape to a “gerrymandered congressional district.”
Bartholomew said he is calling for CSS to extend the patrol zone out further west of campus and create an area that is more congruent to avoid confusion.
Yesterday, March 31, CSS held a question and answer session with students following the Temple Student Government general assembly meeting. At the meeting, students voiced reasons for and against the expanding the patrol area.
Leone told the students that CSS is looking to combine patrol and priority response area to avoid confusion.
In addition to the Pennsylvania law, the Clery Act, a federal statute enacted in 1990, requires that the university report crimes that are reported or investigated to have occurred on property owned or controlled by the university in an annual security report.
Because it maintains an active campus police force, Temple is required to publish daily crime logs in addition to its annual report, per the Clery Act. Temple publishes those logs digitally on CSS’s website, including information from all crimes reported in their patrolling zone.
In Spring 2013, Temple amended its crime logs after an investigation by The Temple News determined the university failed to meet the Pennsylvania’s 2004 Unified Crime Reporting Act, which requires that campus police publish the names and addresses of suspects arrested for crimes, in the same manner that state and local police are required to do. The crime logs now state that they are published in accordance to the Clery Act and additional information on the names and addresses of offenders is available in hard copy at the CSS office or by request.
John Moritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU.