There hasn’t been a murder on or around Main Campus since 2005. Considering the high crime rates in the surrounding neighborhood, one murder in the course of three years is something to be happy about.
“Direct patrol is the best way to control crime,” said Charles Leone, deputy director of Campus Police.
There is no doubt the heavy police presence around campus is what keeps the crime rate so low. Campus Police not only patrol the central campus, but off-campus locations as well, monitoring the places students visit the most, and keeping their eyes on places where crimes occur most frequently.
In 2005, a stray bullet struck someone unaffiliated with Temple at 15th and Susquehanna streets. The victim lived. That same year, a Temple student was shot in his off-campus apartment after he got involved in a troubled lifestyle. That victim was not as fortunate.
Though these incidents may have hit close to home for some Temple students, the sense of security around campus remained intact because neither shooting was directly related to the school, and neither took place in the central part of campus.
Unfortunately for students at other universities, their sense of security has been shattered by recent events. In the last year, Virginia Tech, Delaware State University, Kutztown University and the University of North Texas, among others, have all experienced student-related shootings and murders on and around their campuses.
These mostly suburban schools hadn’t seen crimes like these before, and many were shocked that their safe collegiate bubbles had been penetrated by violence.
While the death toll in Philadelphia climbs almost daily, Temple’s violent crime remains surprisingly low.
“Theft is the largest issue,” Leone said.
Why is Temple so successful in keeping our urban campus safe, while students at suburban colleges seem to be at greater risk for violent crimes?
Campus Police have no misconceptions about the surrounding neighborhood, and they take their jobs seriously. Although schools such as Kutztown and North Texas may have adequate security, lower crime rates around the schools probably gave students and authorities a sense of security; something the Temple community thankfully lacks.
The need to be prepared for the worst helps the Campus Police keep the university safe with preventative strategies and constant communication.
“Our dispatch system is second to none,” said Leone. “It’s connected directly to the Philadelphia Police.”
Leone said he also credits communication with faculty, students, and student activity groups as being important.
“The best part of my job is interacting with students because I get to learn so much,” he said.
Security on campus may be a necessary part of life at urban schools, but maybe suburban schools should look into preventing the crimes they once felt so far removed from.
Shannon McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.