UT Police Department Chief David Carter said he plans to increase West Campus patrols and implement a new camera security system near campus at a press conference Monday.
This conference came after University President Gregory Fenves sent a campuswide email Sunday regarding security, following the off-campus stabbings of two UT students last week. Gov. Greg Abbott also requested the University “redouble their efforts to keep their students safe” in a tweet Monday.
UTPD does not currently receive funding to police off-campus, Carter said.
“It’s important for everyone to understand that UTPD is a state police force with full primary jurisdiction in the city of Austin and in the entire county,” Carter said. “The difference is that while we are a state police force that has full jurisdiction, we are funded to police the Forty Acres and UT property.”
Carter said after he moved from the Austin Police Department to UTPD, he received anecdotes of issues happening on The Drag and off campus.
“Even though we were not funded to patrol off campus, it was imperative for us to actually go off campus as much as we could at the time,” Carter said. “Things have obviously changed as of late, and the president, of course, sent out his letter yesterday. And that is something that I am working on in a plan, in a proposal, for the president in terms of the operations moving forward.”
An additional number of officers will be added to patrol in West Campus, but Carter said he is unable to go into detail of the number of officers yet.
“We are looking at policing in an area where you will find UT students living, congregating, or UT students and faculty going across campus to visit,” Carter said. “There is a lot of foot traffic on West Campus where people are coming on and off campus, so that is where we will be patrolling.”
UTPD will also be working to implement technology such as High Activity Location Observation cameras that APD uses, Carter said. These cameras, also referred to as HALO, give officers a bird’s-eye view of what’s happening on the ground, according to KVUE.
“(The HALO) camera system has proven to be very, very effective … by the fact that after the stabbings occurred on 6th Street, APD was able to use their HALO system to locate the suspect,” Carter said.
Carter said it is important for the UT community to know they rely heavily on APD to assist people off campus, and since Abbott requested greater safety measures, the Department of Public Safety will also be involved.
“Let’s be clear, (APD) clearly do not have enough staffing,” Carter said. “In our estimation, they need more support from the city of Austin, and we will work with them to support them and their mission the best we can. The way I see it, UTPD, APD and (the Department of Public Safety) are all collaborating on this problem that we are dealing with today.”