Campus safety may not be the first thing on the minds of the more than 20,000 University of Delaware students returning to class on September 1, but the Newark Police Department is making it a top priority right now.
Campus safety may not be the first thing on the minds of the more than 20,000 University of Delaware students returning to class on the first of September, but the Newark Police Department is making it a top priority right now.
This week marks the start of Newark’s 2009 Fall Crime Suppression Plan, which will increase police presence in the downtown and student housing areas of the city through the beginning of the school year.
The city will now have additional officers patrolling on foot, in marked cars and in plain clothes patrolling in unmarked cars. A police command post will also be stationed in the area.
Newark Police launched the crime initiative last fall after officers witnessed an increase in street crime over the past few years, occuring most frequently during the first few months of school.
The department attributes the crimes, such as street robberies and assaults, to warm weather and a higher concentration of students being out late at night. Newark Police Spokeperson, Lieutenant Brian Henry, says “Students are often targeted by non-student criminals who see a large victim base of students in Newark.”
The enforcement plan was originally scheduled to start in two weeks but Newark Police Chief Paul Tiernan pushed up the date as a proactive approach to crime prevention this year.
During the months of last year’s fall initiative, the Newark Police received two reports of street crime in Newark, compared to 12 reports in 2007. Overall, crime statistics for the calendar year in Newark showed a decrease in robberies by 14.5 percent and a decrease in assaults by 30 percent. Lt. Henry, says “We hope to keep that trend going this year.”
Downtown areas such as Main Street and Delaware Avenue will be targeted by Newark Police as well as other areas of high student populations and off campus student housing like Cleveland Avenue, South Chapel Street and Park Place.
The Fall Crime Suppression Plan is scheduled to take place through November, which is when the department says it usually sees a decrease in street crimes. However, Lt. Henry says November isn’t an official end date. “When that time comes, ” Henry says, “We will take a look at the numbers and evaluate the program to see if there is still a need for it.”