Authors: Elizabeth Robinson and Lauren Horsch
With safety concerns in the Drake Neighborhood growing, University President David Maxwell sent out a campus-wide memo on Jan. 15. He addressed the Jan. 7 shooting that led to the death of Te’Andre Trumbo-Talton. Trumbo-Talton was not a student at Drake, but was shot near Paul Revere’s Pizza, just west of campus, where many students end their weekend nights.
With a shooting that close to campus, many students called into question how they are alerted about safety threats toward campus and what the university is doing to help students stay safe.
Maxwell, in an email to The Times-Delphic, said that the safety of students at Drake is always a concern of his. He said that through his meetings with the Des Moines Police Department, he was reassured that there was “no trend toward increased crime in the neighborhood.”
“We (university officials) are very careful in deciding when to send an alert, so that people know if they receive one, it demands immediate attention on their part,” Maxwell said in the email.
While the alert system has worked thus far, there are current discussions about changing it.
“We have taken a look at the system and realized that when people are in class, they are asked to turn their phones off and thus would not get notifications of an alert,” he wrote.
Currently, the university is in the process of buying a loudspeaker system to add to the notifications as to better alert those who might not have access to the traditional call-text-email notifications that students receive.
“That system also gives us the ability to give different instruction about response to people in different areas or buildings, depending on what and where the threat is,” Maxwell wrote.
Hans Hanson, Director of Drake Campus Security, agreed that a new notification system could be more practical and efficient.
“This could be a system where we can better respond during a fluid emergency and more quickly communicate building by building or all at once as needed,” he said. “The system now does get a lot of information out to a lot of different people, so we’re considering doing a combination and building layers, having a dual system.”
In the memo sent to students, Maxwell touched on his meetings with police officials and the crime statistics concerning the Drake Neighborhood. According to the data, there were 2,951 reported offenses in 2010, and 2,821 in 2011. That is a difference of 130 crimes in a one-year span, and a 4.4 percent drop in crimes during that span. Maxwell said that the offenses ranged from “driving away from a gas station to DUI to assault.”
Maxwell also said there have been efforts to help detour crime in the Drake Neighborhood.
“Last year, Chief (Judy) Bradshaw (of the Des Moines Police Department) created the Special Enforcement Team to make a serious dent in crime in Des Moines, including the Drake Neighborhood,” Maxwell wrote. “That team made 1,700 ‘contacts’ across the city in two-and-a-half months, focusing on people who are known to be involved in crime. The initiative was so successful that the chief suspended their operation in late fall, but she made it clear that they watch crime trends very, very carefully, and that she’s prepared to redeploy the SET immediately if the situation warrants it.”
Maxwell said that he wants to reemphasize that the administration takes the safety and security of the Drake family on and around the campus “very, very seriously.”
Drake Security Operations Manager/Crime Analyst, Mitzie Lootens, agreed that the safety of Drake’s campus is a main priority.
“It’s really important to have visibility because that enhances the faith that our community has in us,” she said. “It shows that we’re meeting the needs of the community.”
While the data may show that crime is declining, Maxwell said that “we do not live in a bubble,” and the administration will continue to find ways to improve safety and security for the Drake community.
Hanson reiterated Maxwell’s point and his confidence in the safety and security of Drake. “We don’t flinch and we don’t blink. We’re Drake University and we’re going to keep going steady.”
— Drake Security (515-271-2222)
— Drake Direct (515-243-1111)
— Residence Life Staff
— Notificiation System (SMS, email, and phone calls)
— Emergency Phones (Blue posts on campus)