During a meeting between Campus Safety Services and The Temple News last week, a reporter asked Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone if the recent brick assaults had anything to do with the announced patrol border expansion.
Leone readjusted in his seat, looked down and said, “I think it certainly had us ask the question, ‘Are we doing everything we can to provide a safe environment for the students?’”
The university faced criticism from its student body and local media the weekend of March 21.
On that date, a 19-year-old student was walking home with her boyfriend when a group of teenagers approached the two around 6 p.m. and hit her in the face with a brick. The assault resulted in a trip to the hospital, a mild concussion and oral surgery.
Within a half-hour, the same group approached two other students within a five-block radius and punched one in the face and beat the other to the ground.
Instead of hearing of the events from the university, students watched the story unfold through local media outlets, including this newspaper. A statement was issued from Temple three days later that said no TU Alert or TU Ready was sent because of miscommunication between Philadelphia police and because the event happened outside of Temple’s jurisdiction.
The brick assault happened one block west of Main Campus.
“I feel like I was in pure daylight,” the brick assault victim, whose identity is being withheld for safety, told The Temple News after the incident. “If [security] bikes were out, they should have saw me. Temple says they have great security, but I don’t know where they were when I was attacked.”
Local media first reported the immediate facts, as The Temple News spent the weekend interviewing all four of the victims – the only media outlet to do so – and dug deeper into the issue.
We continued reporting and asking questions, even after the news vans left Main Campus.
Why wasn’t an alert issued? Why doesn’t Temple patrol an area where more than 4,000 students live? Is it the school’s obligation to protect its off-campus student body?
Located in Philadelphia, Temple will never be completely safe from criminal behavior. And students living off campus should recognize the risks associated with doing so.
But as the university community continued evolving – administrators estimate that as many as 10,000 students have moved into the areas surrounding Main Campus in the past decade alone – the school’s policies for campus safety had become long overdue for reform.
Additionally, the new patrol borders make the previous jagged boundaries that Temple Police covered much easier to understand, as they now form a square around Main Campus. The new patrol zone is bound by 18th Street to the west, Susquehanna Avenue to the north, Ninth Street to the east and Jefferson Street to the south – nearly 25 blocks more than the previous boundaries.
The border extension, piloted in August and implemented at the beginning of the fall semester, is not expected to cost the university any additional money, as the increased costs are being offset by supplemental patrol funds from the Philadelphia Police Department.
Under Pennsylvania law, campus police are allowed to operate on university-owned grounds, or within 500 yards of a property operated by the school. Legally, Temple didn’t have to extend its patrol borders, as the university was acting in accordance with the Clery Act.
But now, for students like the 19-year-old who was attacked this past spring and anyone else who previously felt unsafe exploring the surrounding areas of their university, the reformed policy should make them feel more safe than they did just a few months ago.
In light of an issue that dominated our coverage of the university community throughout the spring semester, we fully support Temple’s decision to extend the patrol border nearly 25 blocks, and the school’s willingness to address these particular student with specific and meaningful action.