UW Police hold student safety symposium

The UW police chief said a symposium highlights the need for a partnership between students and police.

The University of Washington Police Department held a student safety symposium on Wednesday to get input about crime, concerns, and ways to make students feel more secure on campus.

The event was planned long before several recent high-profile cases involving UW students, but the police chief says recent incidents only highlight the need for a partnership with officers and students.

"I think any type of crime on our campus is one crime too many," said Chief John Vinson.

On May 3, a female student and sorority member became a crime victim when she was shot several times while walking along 19th Avenue Northeast.

Also this month, law enforcement revealed two teens on the school's men's crew team are under investigation for the alleged sexual assault of a female student.

The school year also included an on-campus shooting during a protest on Inauguration Day back in January.

"What are issues of concern? From a student perspective. Things you've heard or witnessed or personally feel," Vinson asked a small group of students who showed up for Wednesday's safety symposium.

Students voiced concerns about keeping the campus secure when it's so open and in the middle of a major city like Seattle.

They talked about fear of walking alone at night, domestic violence issues among students, guns on campus, and shootings that might be off campus but are close by and impact students directly.

"A couple months ago, there was a shooting about two blocks off campus, a block from my fraternity house, and there wasn't a UW email alert sent out for almost 24 hours," one student told police.

Vinson says that needs to change.

"A couple takeaways – We can do a better job of communicating to our students through various social media platforms and follow-ups when we put out info out regarding various crimes on campus. Those were very clearly defined," said Vinson. "And more importantly, as a department, finding ways to really communicate who we are and our role on campus."

With finals set for next week, UW classes for this year are just about over.  

Officers say they are already looking ahead to the next academic year, and hope to put some of the suggestions they heard at this safety symposium right to work.

© 2017 KING-TV


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