Campus safety second rate

How safe are we? Waking up Tuesday morning to the news of yet another shooting near Fresno State led to a serious contemplation of our safety. Monday’s incident marks the third shooting near campus this year, and as a student to the university and a resident in the nearby community, I’m becoming increasingly concerned.

Obviously sharing jurisdiction with the Fresno Police Department (FPD), the University Police Department’s (UPD) “primary jurisdiction” is a one-mile radius from Fresno State property, as listed on their Web site. As such, it would be the logical assumption that this area would be one of the safest in Fresno.

Yet, here we are again— five months into the year, three potentially threatening incidents.

This recent violence around campus made me flashback to the end of my senior year in high school. “Well, don’t get shot.” That was the half-joking reply I always received from my classmates whenever mentioning Fresno State as my college choice. I honestly didn’t understand the blunt reference to violence.

At the time, I was completely oblivious to the number of people that considered Fresno as the San Joaquin Valley’s thuggin’ metropolis.

So through the end of high school, I brushed off the negative comments as ill repute born out of the inflation of scattered incidents. And even when already living in Fresno, I still felt confident in my safety from what is supposed to be the double whammy of the UPD’s and FPD’s patrols.

But flashing back to real time, there seems to be a breakdown of efficiency somewhere. According to Amy Armstrong, the UPD’s Public Information Officer, UPD officers “always are actively patrolling” their jurisdiction, making the department “very aware of what’s happening on the perimeter of our campus so that we can protect our campus.”

But if that is the case, why did it take UPD 19 hours to notify students about Monday’s shooting? Isn’t notifying campus community of potential safety threats part of the reason the UPD wants to be “aware” of incidents around campus?

According to the UPD, the shooting took place about 10 p.m. on Recreation Avenue, located across from Save Mart Center, between Woodrow and Chestnut Avenues. At this time, the nearby Student Rec Center still had an entire hour of being fully operational. Considering the proximity of the shooting to the center and its location within UPD’s “primary jurisdiction,” it should have been deemed essential to immediately notify students through the university’s various communication methods.

Whether gang or other non-campus related criminal activity is to blame, it is the responsibility of the FPD, along with UPD, to provide adequate measures to ensure our safety. We should be able to be confident in the services provided by these two agencies and of their ability to notify students of any potential threat. But with a third shooting, I am not so sure that is the case.

From their constant patrols at night around Dog House Grill and the Red Wave Inn, it is clear that both departments acknowledge drunk driving as a threat to public safety and in that way, send students, and all in the area, a clear message of active enforcement of DUI laws. Even more, just try having a party in the one-mile radius from campus, and see how quickly it gets shut down.

But what will it take so both police agencies focus on a different kind of threat to our safety and take a deeper look into gang activity surrounding Fresno State? Will it take the injury of an uninvolved bystander from a stray bullet or missed target to call them to action?

As the last couple of months are showing, violence around campus may not be an inflated notoriety, but could be an unfortunate reality. Let’s just hope it is a reality that both departments will work to change.

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