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Campus police reach out to community

Police service focuses on community partnerships, staff development and the student experience
by Jenny Hall
If you happened to notice a group of people at the University of Toronto at Scarborough shaving their heads earlier this year, it wasn’t an extreme makeover — just all in a day’s work for officers with the campus police service. From Scarborough’s annual headshaving fundraiser for cancer to awareness workshops at First Nations House to an international conference of gay and lesbian criminal justice professionals, the campus police have been busy reaching out to the campus communities and beyond, according to 2005 annual reports presented to University Affairs Board at its April 25 meeting.

Police services at U of T at Scarborough, U of T at Mississauga and St. George share a common policy and mandate and according to Darcy Griffith, manager of police services at UTSC, a “strong commitment to community safety, crime prevention, diversity and community problem solving.”

The presentation, made jointly by managers of the three police services, focused on community involvement. In addition to their fifth annual Cops for Cancer FundRazor event, the UTSC service held a road safety week and continued to operate the UTSC patrol to accompany those walking alone at night. UTM officers reintroduced a work-alone service, which allows students and staff working at night to register with the police, conducted several safety audits and offered community training to diverse groups including residence dons and the women’s centre. The St. George police service sponsored two groups of engineering students working to solve a design problem related to skateboarding on campus and held a bicycle and pedestrian safety rodeo. These events are only a sample of those offered by the three services in 2005.

The reports also summarized campus crime. Occurrences of crime on the St. George campus are down to 797 from 1,045 in 2004. Of the 797 incidents, the majority 409) involved theft under $5,000, though this number is down from 481 in 2004.

At UTSC there were 214 criminal incidents in 2005, down from 279 in 2004. The majority of incidents 60) involved theft under $5,000. At UTM incidents were up to 896 from 709 in 2004 (note that the UTM number includes non-criminal incidents such as alarms and calls for medical assistance, whereas the UTSC and St. George numbers do not). There were 88 criminal offences against persons down from 167 in 2004) and 153 property-related crimes (up from 133 in 2004).

Board members at the April 25 meeting spent time after the presentations discussing thefts under $5,000 — which are largely thefts of bicycles. Noting that the number of thefts under $5,000 had declined, board member Margaret Hancock asked whether theft was actually declining or whether people were less likely to report bicycle thefts.

“It’s a perennial issue,” said Dan Hutt, manager of police services at the St. George campus. We’ve been successful in arresting a few people in the last year for stealing bikes. We have a very good relationship with a bike shop on Spadina and we go in and check every once in a while to see if they have any of our stolen bicycles. That may be a factor.”

The police said that priorities for the coming year include strengthened links and partnerships in the community, a continued focuses on staff development and the creation of a strategic plan focused on the student experience at U of T.

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