ASecureLife, a security research company, named UTSA the 2nd safest campus in the state of Texas and the 30th safest campus in the nation. The report, which analyzed campus safety, reviewed criminal activity from 320 college campuses over a 10-year period. They collected data from four-year institutions with an average enrollment of 10,000 or more students and reviewed the number of assaults, thefts and burglaries reported from 2007 to 2017.
Chief Gerald Lewis Jr., UTSA associate vice president of public safety and chief of police, explained the impact this recognition has on the UTSA community.
“For an outside agency to look at it and say OK you guys are number 30 in the country and number two in the state is something really to be reckoned with and something to be proud of,” Lewis said.
UTSA landed at number two behind Sam Houston State University but ranked above other universities which included The University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech University, Texas A&M University and Baylor University.
“Number one, it’s personal for us. Number two, it’s a credit to our personnel and that includes our police officers, public safety officers who are our security guards, our dispatchers, our support staff and everyone,” Lewis said. “We take great pride in keeping our community safe and our university community safe.”
Safety on campus is a top priority for the Department of Public Safety (DPS), and they encourage students to pay attention to their surroundings, report any suspicious activity and look out for each other. The DPS actively works with the Office of Environmental Health, Safety, and Risk Management, Facilities, SGA and Disability Services to cover a variety of safety concerns.
“What we do annually is we walk both of our campuses, the Main Campus and the Downtown Campus, and we identify any lighting issues, any places where we feel brush needs to be cut back to allow people to see better, tripping hazards, I mean all of these different things. So, when you talk about safety, it includes all of these things,” Lewis said.
The DPS at UTSA have layered security measures in place through a variety of programs. Located across both campuses are blue light phones that provide an immediate response to the campus dispatch center. Strategically located security camera systems across facilities provide additional security oversight for students and faculty. UTSA also provides a free app, LiveSafe, which produces additional real-time safety resources and UTSA specific information.
LiveSafe allows students, staff and faculty to instantaneously notify UTSA police of their location if an emergency arises. The app provides a “Safe Walk” feature which allows individuals to share their location with friends who can virtually escort them to ensure they arrive at their destination safely. Additionally, individuals can upload photos, video and text messages of any suspicious activity for law enforcement to review. LiveSafe currently has 1,385 student users, 388 staff users and 80 faculty users.
“Overall, crime has gone down as a whole. We’ve seen a decrease in thefts, which is always good,” Lewis said. “As far as serious crimes, we haven’t seen any increases or any patterns that concern us or anything else. Just know that if we do, we would certainly put together a strategy to try to combat that.”
A federally regulated annual security report, The Clery Report, is released every year with the geographical statistics of crimes around the UTSA community. This report is a collective effort between UTSA, local law enforcement and federal agencies to gather the statistical data that is analyzed before publication. The Clery Report will be available by Oct. 1. For more information on the LiveSafe app, please visit: https://www.dropbox.com/s/0i5utrqpw8iptj7/LiveSafe.mp4?dl=0.