Jennifer Griffin assesses campus safety initiatives

Griffin has plans to act on task force recommendations as the fall semester comes to a end.

Vice President for Public Safety Jennifer Griffin shares her goals on improving campus safety. EARL KUFEN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Heading into the spring semester, Jennifer Griffin, vice president for public safety, has accepted recommendations from Temple’s Task Force on Violence Reduction to improve communication between the Temple University Police Department and students, and develop new and existing safety initiatives.

During her first 90 days, which came to a close on Nov. 20, Griffin familiarized herself with the campus as she worked with the university and community organizations to address campus safety goals, like reimagining current safety resources.

Areas near Main Campus have been experiencing high levels of crime. Within a two-week span in November, there were three off-campus home invasions involving Temple students. A group of Temple students were the victims of an arson attack in an off-campus home on Cleveland Street near Norris on Nov. 15.

In all instances, a Temple detective was dispatched to the scene to speak with the students involved, Griffin wrote in a message to the university. 

“I would say that the first 90 days has gone well, for exploring the agency and starting this strategy,” Griffin said. “But we’re experiencing a lot of challenging, you know, issues here on campus and around campus.”

Here’s what to know about campus safety heading into next semester:

Action On Task Force Recommendations

On Nov. 15, the Task Force submitted a list of safety recommendations in a report to the university. The recommendations included creating an advisory board of students, parents and faculty, reassessing community outreach efforts and creating a dashboard showing crime trends and university violence reduction strategies.

The report reflected student and community safety concerns following the fatal shooting of a Temple student in November 2021. 

Joseph Burch, a senior media studies and production major, feels that it’s not safe to go off-campus after 8 or 9 p.m.

“It’s just like they walk in a circle on campus and I do appreciate that they’re there but at the same time nothing much is really being done about it,” Burch said. “I think that actually affects the problem.”

To help address citywide engagement, Temple joined Philadelphia’s Civic Coalition to Save Lives, an organization that aims to increase collaborations between community organizations, non-profits, businesses and other entities to address gun violence. 

“Temple quickly jumped on the opportunity,” Griffin said. “It’s really to bring together partners from all different parts of the city. So it’ll be education, social services, licenses, and especially, it’ll have and then a lot of different universities, a lot of nonprofits and for-profits all working together.” 

Communication Efforts

The Task Force recommended that the university improve communication strategies by sending out follow-up messages after TUalerts to provide a status update on the incident, creating a campus safety tab on TUportal and developing a new campus safety website to promote safety services within the Temple community and surrounding areas.

At a Temple Student Government town hall in August, Griffin shared her goals for improving communication between TUPD and students. Her goals included increasing social media presence and marketing efforts with advice from representatives of Temple’s Office of Strategic Communications and David Boardman, dean of the Klein College of Media and Communication, to inform students about recent crimes and the safety resources available.

The department is in the process of hiring a full-time communications and messaging director for public safety, Griffin said. 

Future Initiatives

Griffin is working with Temple’s Center for Anti-Racism to discuss best practices between students and the university, like communication and reflect on crime prevention and opportunities to improve safety initiatives.

Jennifer Ibrahim, interim dean of the College of Public Health and the School of Social Work is working alongside Griffin to create a team of TUPD and Master of Social Work students to respond to mental health crises within the patrol zone.

Through collaboration with the university and SSW, they hope to properly respond to mental health-related calls with MSW responders trained in crisis management assisting Temple police officers.

Griffin will continue to reassess safety initiatives and accept recommendations as they are given to her.

“We want to be really transparent,” Griffin said. “We want to engage with people. We want to make sure that they know what we’re doing.”

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