Editorial: Crime alert delay signals need for communication

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist
Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

Students received a Campus Safety Alert email last week from the Baylor Police Department encouraging them to take precautions after a series of armed robberies occurred at the edge of campus in October.

But the email could have been even more valuable had it come a little sooner.

The email detailed three armed robberies that took place between Oct. 15 and Oct. 27 and a fourth robbery that occurred Oct. 30, during which no weapon was revealed. A description of the suspect was included in the email, as well as an urge for students to be alert and take precautions, especially at night, and brief instructions on how to handle such dangerous situations.

However, the email was not sent out until Nov. 1— more than two weeks after the first robbery. Students were not alerted when the robbery actually occurred. Nor were they alerted on the night of the second, third or fourth robberies.

According to the Baylor Police Department, students were not told about the spree of robberies because the pattern of events was not discovered until a joint meeting with the Waco Police Department which prompted the email alert to students.

Although Baylor police chief Jim Doak said the departments typically communicate with one another every day, the delay in relaying these four robberies signals a need for better communication between the local and university police departments. Subsequently, communication between the police departments and students will improve.

Knowledge of serious near-campus crimes can help keep the Baylor community safe, and it shouldn’t take four such events for us to receive an alert.

When crimes occur on campus, we typically receive text messages and emails letting us know about the danger as soon as possible.

But these robberies occurred in areas where many students live and hang out — the 1100 block of South Eighth Street, the 1300 and 1400 blocks of South 11th Street, and at S. Ninth and Speight Avenue.

It would be in the students’ best interests to have been made aware of the armed robberies occurring nearby so that they could be reminded to make safe and informed decisions – to not leave valuables in our cars, to not run the Bear Trail alone at night and to be more observant of our surroundings.

Granted, we should be making such decisions every day, but most of us become lax about taking precautions when we feel there is no imminent danger and are only throttled back into doing so when we receive word of recent crimes nearby. It would have been nice to know when the robberies began that there was indeed such a danger; maybe some of us would have begun taking precautions sooner.

We recognize that the police departments are busy and officers are working hard to keep students safe. And it makes sense not to alert students to every crime that occurs. If we were made aware of every single crime, the alerts would probably lose their impact on students, causing us to ignore them rather than pay attention and take precautions.

However, alerting students to serious dangers such as armed robberies both on and near campus as soon as possible could potentially save us all more trouble in the long run.