At a student rally Wednesday evening
Penn Police's Maureen Rush spoke with
the press outside Van Pelt Library.
The next day President Rodin called an
open meeting (inset) to announce
eight new commitments in safety .
At that meeting she made a ninth
commitment, to evaluate Escort Service
anew. Daily Pennsylvanian photos
by Hooman Anvar.
Then around 3 a.m. Wednesday, September 25, College senior Patrick Leroy was shot and wounded in an attempted robbery while walking with two friends near 40th and Locust.
Penn Police responded, followed shortly by Philadelphia Police, and Mr. Leroy was taken to HUP where his condition was listed Thursday as stable and by the weekend was recorded as good.
Within an hour of the shooting, Philadelphia Police had arrested a 20-year-old Delaware man who was charged with armed robbery and related offenses.
But the shooting, coming on top of other robberies with firearms, reverberated through the week.
In public meetings and private counseling and advising sessions, Penn administrators, staff and police professionals dealt with the ramifications of a crime pattern "unprecedented"in the words of Public Safety's Managing Director Tom Seamon--not for its numbers alone, but because even after seven arrests that apparently cleared 18 of the month's 26 incidents, a 27th still occurredand nearly took a life.
Often, Mr. Seamon said, a rash of robberies indicates a serial offender or offenders. Thus when a suspect is arrested, police reopen earlier unsolved incidents and try to find out, through physical evidence or eyewitness identification, whether the same suspect can be charged with more than one count. This can lead to longer sentences, keeping repeat offenders off the streets longer and potentially acting as a deterrent.
This fall's increased arrest rate in campus crime is attributed partly to the fact that after the first street incidents and fraternity/sorority house burglaries, Penn and Philadelphia police had stepped up patrols and had deployed more investigators--including plainclothes decoys who were responsible for some arrests that took alleged multiple offenders off the streets.
But students had also stepped up their precautionsparticularly heeding the advice to walk in pairs or groups, as Patrick Leroy had done with two other fraternity men. "He was not alone, but he still wasn't safe," several speakers pointed out in three gatherings where safety was discussed last week. Mr. Seamon, with the VPUL, continue to advise traveling together (see letter, next page) but as part of a mixture of behaviors and techniques. "There is no single answer in safety," Mr. Seamon said Thursday night.
Some issues common to these three sessions are addressed in the eight new steps Dr. Rodin announced. In Q & A, however, questions and proposals showed varied levels of awareness of safety measures already in place.
Bluelight Phones: To a speaker who scorned bluelight phones, claiming police must expect one to dial while being mugged, Dr. Rodin explained the real and preventive uses, e.g., to report being followed, to report suspicious behavior, to report someone else's plight.
Walking Escorts: When speakers equated the use of PennWalk (the University-operated walking escort) with being accompanied by friends which in the case of Patrick Leroy did not deterDirector of Police Operations Maureen Rush said Escorts' radios and insignia make a difference, both enabling them to summon help and setting up a deterrent effect by linking them visibly to police authority.
At Council, President Rodin had also underscored her confidence in PennWatch, the student volunteer group, saying that although students (via the Student Activities Committee) had declined to renew its support, the University would now fund it.
Escort Vans: One of the most-questioned services was the Escort van systemwhere vans do and don't go, where they should stop, how long the wait between vans at transit stops and how long the wait when one is booked by phone. Ms. Rush clarified some apparent anomalies such as no-service at campus corenoting that the idea was to use walking escort to move within the core and to get to the transit stops. But Dr. Rodin said, as questions continued, that it was obvious the University would need to take a new look at the entire system.
The City: Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Rich Zapille stunned some members of the audience by saying that because of the Penn Police, West Philadelphia is actually safer than anywhere else; but he expressed commitment to the new goals that call for more city police help. Dr. Rodin urged letters to the Mayor Edward Rendell to keep safety on the agenda, and Friday Ms. Rush added a call for letters to City Council after news reports that some Council members propose cutting $6 million from the District Attorney's budgetpotentially affecting Penn's plan for vigorous prosectution to help increase safety.
Community: Some speakers assumed Penn has no relationship to its neighborhood (Vice President Carol Scheman offered to brief the speaker) while others described existing activities and urged audience members to join in. Later Glenn Bryan, director of community relations, offered to provide information to callers; there are also lists at http://partners. upenn.edu/WP. Earlier, Tom Seamon said Penn is helping seek for West Philadelphia a Special Services District similar to Center City's.
Follow-up: In a press briefing Friday the month's new total was given at 28,with a robbery reported at Urban Outfitters Thursday night. But another arrest was also detailed, potentially linking an offender both to a street robbery and to burglary in the Greek houses. During the briefing Ms. Rush outlined some of the resources available to victims and those around them who may have post-traumatic stress--among them Penn Police's Special Services (formerly Victim Support), the Penn Women's Center, and the VPUL's Counseling and Psychological Services, where Dr. Ilene Rosenstein issued the invitation below.
The group might be helpful for you or someone you know who, in response to a trauma, feels scared, helpless, or hyper-vigilant; who experiences distressing thoughts, difficulties sleeping, or problems concentrating; or who tries to avoid any feelings, people or activities that might be associated with the trauma.
The group offers a safe, confidential, and supportive place to learn ways to cope and to be understood. Please call 898-7021 to learn more about the groups and other free services that can help you.
Ilene C. Rosenstein, University Counseling and Psychological Services
Volume 43 Number 6
October 1, 1996
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