SafeHorns hosts National Night Out in West Campus

Michelle Zhang

Brenda Nguyen, health and society sophomore, learned to use a pepper spray for the first time during West Campus National Night Out. The event, hosted by SafeHorns Tuesday night, was the first of its kind to be held in West Campus. 

National Night Out is a nationwide program started in 1984 in order to get people to interact with their neighbors and police officers to strengthen police-community relationships and reduce crime.

UTPD and APD held a kick-off event Oct. 1, and this year’s Austin National Night Out includes several events on and off campus partnering with over 600 student and
commercial organizations.

UTPD Assistant Chief Peter Scheets has worked in municipal police for 20 years and said information and notifications from residents are valuable for police to better combat crimes and maintain a safer environment.

“The community safety is the whole community’s concern, police officers are the ones who are paid to do it, full time, but it’s everybody’s responsibility,” Scheets said. “If we don’t actually get out and get into the community and find out what their concerns are, then we are not gonna be effective as a police department.”

SafeHorns is a coalition of concerned UT parents and other stakeholders committed to taking constructive action to improve safety on and around UT campus.

“We’ve learned that a lot of students don’t engage,” said Joell McNew, a founding member of SafeHorns. “If students don’t report crime, then it’s not real, because APD counts violent crimes, assault and all these things, they get all these statistics and data based on actual reporting.”

Isaiah Carter, Student Government chief of staff, pitched his idea for a safe map that evaluates every street in West Campus to help students make informed decisions about how to walk home during the event. Carter said SG is trying to combat students concerns and promote safety.

“Students cannot do this alone,” Carter said. “We need help from administrators, we need help from parents and organizations and community leaders, we need help from business leaders in order for this to work.”

After attending the event, Nguyen said she felt events like this were helpful and should be held annually. 

“With initiatives like this, you start to feel that there are resources out there for you to go to, there are actually people who care about making campus safer,” Nguyen said.