UTPD makes safety changes before fall semester

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Photo Credit: Rocky Higine | Daily Texan Staff

To help ensure the safety of more than 50,000 students and staff coming to campus this fall, the UT Police Department is providing several new resources to increase safety efforts.

In the wake of mass shootings across the nation, UTPD Chief David Carter said he began reorganizing the structure of the police department to better fit campus needs. The department’s officers are now split into three divisions: Public Order, Investigations and Analysis and Community Engagement.

Public Order officers will develop action plans to respond to immediate and violent events, such as active shooters or bomb threats. The Investigations and Analysis division’s responsibilities are to develop and present thorough cases when prosecuting crimes, as well as to identify and address crime trends. The Community Engagement division officers will interact with students, faculty and staff to develop trustworthy and positive relationships. 

“In a global way, each of these three divisions work together, but they all have specific responsibilities to address the threats that we perceive that could affect UT, whether they are likely or not,” Carter said.

These divisions are based on a threat matrix Carter also developed, which shows all potential crimes, ranging from theft to terrorist attacks, on a scale of likelihood of occurring on campus and the level of risk posed by such crimes. 

“The guiding principles for the reorganization really is the threat matrix itself, but also recognizing the trends going on across the country and trying to get in front of those, (such as) the lack of trust in policing,” Carter said.

 

UTPD will be hosting multiple Civilian Response to Active Shooter classes for all students and staff this fall, which will train attendees on what to do in the event of an active shooter. The first class is scheduled for Sept. 9 at the Avaya Auditorium in the Peter O’Donnell Jr. building.  

The department is also planning to release the LiveSafe app in October, which will give those who download it two-way communication with UTPD. After UTPD releases the app for campus use, users will be able to send tips, pictures, videos and calls to police as well as track their friends’ locations to make sure they travel safely.

“This app is something UTPD is paying for access for all students, all faculty, all staff to get, so we’re very hopeful that they will sign up for this app when it (becomes available),” Carter said. 

Matthew Posey, a journalism and environmental science freshman, said he would be interested in downloading the app and attending the active shooter class. 

“The app would definitely make me feel a lot more secure, because it’s so instant and right there,” Posey said. “It’s a big transition going from safety stuff in high school to safety stuff on a ‘40-acre’ campus.” 

Psychology freshman Favour Unegbu said she feels safer with the new resources UTPD is adding and is grateful for their efforts to protect campus. 

“UTPD seems very determined and serious about campus safety and ensuring that the students and faculty are comfortable on campus, which I appreciate a lot,” Unegbu said.