New policy with APD keeps UTPD better informed of crime close to campus

David Maly

Thanks to a new policy, UTPD will now be better informed of incidents in the area surrounding campus that could pose a threat to the UT community.

The Austin Police Department watch commander on duty is now required to immediately notify the UT Police Department by phone of incidents within a two-block radius of campus that could pose a threat to the University. They are also now required to send an email notification to UTPD for less threatening incidents. The changes took effect Oct. 1.

Austin police Lt. Kevin Leverenz said Austin police have always worked to notify UTPD of these incidents, but this requirement helps guarantee notification by formalizing the process.

“There was no systematic rule to ensure that the University of Texas Police Department were aware of an incident that was nearby the campus, so we are just trying to fill in a gap,” Leverenz said.

Leverenz said incidents that automatically qualify for the immediate phone alert are a barricaded subject, hostage situation, active shooter, shooting, stabbing, homicide, suspicious death, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, bomb threat, indecency with a child, riot and person with a gun.

He said incidents that automatically qualify for the email notification are a missing person, suicide, suicidal subject, deceased person identified as a student, crowd control incident, report of hazing, missing person involving a UT student and report of shots fired.

UT police chief Robert Dahlstrom said in some cases UTPD did not learn about incidents in a timely manner or at all, making the policy change necessary.

Leverenz said the Austin Police Department’s communication office will now receive a notification when an incident that falls into the criteria occurs, telling them to inform the watch commander on duty, who will notify UTPD.

Leverenz said for incidents that fall outside of the criteria, Austin police will continue to exercise their judgment in determining whether UT police need to be notified.

Dahlstrom said UT police have always notified Austin police of relevant incidents, although there is not a formal policy in place. He said most police departments use their own discretion on when to notify other police departments of incidents. He said the relationship between UTPD and APD is excellent.

Dahlstrom and Leverenz said both UTPD and APD will evaluate the effectiveness of the initiative in the future and may expand the specified two-block radius if needed.

Dahlstrom said the radius may change as the campus changes as well.

Printed on Thursday, November 8, 2012 as: APD policy to inform UTPD of close threats