The University of Texas Police Department said they will increase safety measures in West Campus after the UT System Board of Regents approved $8 million for off-campus security on Thursday in response to citywide increases in crime.
The $8 million will be equally divided among the next four years to fund security cameras, a small police station on Guadalupe, 13 additional officers and a new 7th district under UTPD’s jurisdiction that encompasses West Campus. All of these additions will go into effect in the coming months, UTPD Chief David Carter said.
“It’s clear we need to have additional police presence in those areas where people are walking,” Carter said. “I can envision in the future us pushing out more permanently … (but) this is where we’re looking to start west.”
Carter said he hopes to identify and create the six initial locations for security cameras by this summer and expand from there. The camera system will eventually be linked with Austin Police Department’s system so both departments can monitor the video, he said.
“The idea (works) just the same way the HALO camera system works downtown, we hope that private sector folks will be able to plug their cameras and share that information with us as well,” Carter said. “It’s really about partnership.”
Boundaries have not been finalized for the new 7th district, Carter said. This new district plans to have at least one mobile officer patrolling at all times.
“We’re actually looking to create a pair of two officers that focus on that area to gather information working with the student community,” Carter said.
West Campus will also see an increase in bike patrols, Carter said.
Carter said he hopes to have a storefront substation, where students can come in to make reports, created in the next three months at Walter Webb Hall.
“What we want to do is to create a visible presence in that particular area so that students can come in as they need to,” Carter said. “It’ll also be a place that will provide them additional space to come in and address any communications.”
SafeHorns president Joell McNew said these security measures are a great start to keeping students safe.
“I look forward to it evolving, and it’s a great first step, and I can’t wait,” McNew said. “I hope students feel like it’s a positive move.”
McNew said she is still concerned about student living areas like North Campus and hopes for increased support from the city.
“What we’re feeling right now is, at least we have the relationship with APD, but our city leaders need to get on board and support chief Carter and really do more to address the infrastructure portion (of security),” McNew said.
Biochemistry sophomore Emily Crone said she is happy with UTPD’s plan of action.
“A lot of students live in West Campus, so it’s important that UTPD can help patrol that area,” Crone said.