Oct 15, 2019
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(Dalton Runberg/The Collegian)

Fresno State Police encourage student safety awareness

The Fresno State Police Department, located on Barstow Ave. across from Parking Lot Q, can respond more quickly to calls made on campus if the caller uses the police department’s direct line, 559-278-8400.
Dalton Runberg / The Collegian

It’s a natural inclination when a crime is observed to dial 911.

However, when at Fresno State, authorities say there is a better number to call.

“If you are on your cellphone and you dial 911, all cellphones go to the California Highway Patrol,” said Fresno State Campus Police Sgt. John Gavel. “And if you tell them you are at Fresno State, they will transfer you to our dispatch, which can take longer to get an officer en route.”

Gavel said that students should dial Fresno State Campus Police directly at 559-278-8400 to save time, a crucial element when it comes to reporting crime.

“If you dial our local number,” Gavel said, “you have us almost immediately, where an officer will be there in a minute or two.”

Gavel said that students need to pay more attention to what they carry around campus, their surroundings and what they put in their automobiles, especially at night.

Campus Emergency Communications sent out 11 safety alerts in the past 13 months, and most of those incidents happened at night.

Students like Tia Vance, a 20-year-old mass communication and journalism major, said she doesn’t feel safe on campus when the sun goes down and even dropped a night class because of her concerns.

“I had one night class before and honestly, I hated it,” Vance said. “I do not feel safe at night after leaving class because people are crazy. I will never take a night class again.”

Yoshiko Takahashi, Victim services certificate program Director, agreed that adding more lights on campus could be one way of improving safety, but insisted that students are the ones who are in full control.

“I believe that what is more important is that students need to be aware that they are suitable targets as they carry attractive items and are less careful about themselves and their property,” Takahashi said. “Students need to be cautious.”

Gavel said that improvements such as more lights would be ideal but budget concerns will likely prevent such measures. Instead, Gavel suggested students should walk with friends and to drive home, no matter how close they live to campus.

“If it was my kid,” Gavel said, “I would probably advise them to drive if they could. For those who ride a bike, you could go faster on a bike than foot. I would always prefer to have those options available.”

Gavel said that many people are afraid to call in suspicious behavior and encouraged students to call the department with any concerns.

“For whatever reasons,” Gavel said. “Their body language, their actions, they’re just kind of like standing around for no apparent reason. Life has no guarantees, but we want to put the odds on our favor.”

Students who wish to report a crime or suspicious activity can call the Fresno State Campus Police Department at 559-278-2132. Student who wish to remain anonymous can either send an email addressed to fresnostate@tipnow.org or by text Tipnow at 559-664-3204.

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