Police relay preventative safety measures for students

Students find preventative measures to take while being alone in public in Waco. Grace Fortier | Photographer

By Lexi Masarweh | Staff Writer

With an apparent influx of crime as of late, Waco PD and BUPD gave a few words of advice to students who feel unsafe in Waco and on campus.

Cierra Shipley, public information officer for Waco PD, said it is important to make sure you are prepared and able to protect yourself in any situation.

“There’s a number of different things that you can do to not only protect yourself, but also to prevent from anything happening,” Shipley said. “You can start with little things like maybe getting some pepper spray or a handheld sort of stun gun. Those obviously work if you’re being attacked in the moment.”

Shipley said other preventative measures like not traveling alone — especially if you are out at night — are good plans of action.

Shipley also said to not go to places you are unfamiliar with alone and to not meet someone new or from online by yourself. If you are going to, Shipley said to communicate with a friend and have them know what you are doing and when and where you are going.

Shipley said that she recommends self-defense classes and that it is important to call 911 immediately and report if you find yourself falling victim to a crime. This way, the police can start an investigation and potentially find the suspect.

According to Shipley, the police’s daily patrol helps students feel safer. The police department also works closely with BUPD.

“We are constantly making sure that we’re keeping the public and Baylor students safe, especially during Baylor events like the football and basketball games,” Shipley said. “We partner with Baylor for security purposes, and it’s not just security for Baylor. It is security for those people surrounding Baylor as well. It’s for those eventgoers.”

For students who feel unsafe and want an officer to come check on them, Shipley said to call the non-emergency number.

Shipley said that the ‘it’s not going to happen to me’ mentality is not good to have and that students need to be prepared for any situation.

Donald Rodman, assistant chief of BUPD, said in an email that students should avoid texting and walking and that when listening to music, they should take one earbud out so that they can hear what is going on around them. He also advised students to accept rides only from people they trust, to remember that there is safety in numbers and to download the BU Campus Guardian app on their phones.

The “Virtual Escort” feature on the BU Campus Guardian app allows students and staff to connect with the BUPD dispatch center as they travel to their destination and provides confirmation to BUPD and/or a list of set “guardians” upon arrival.

With the “Virtual Escort,” the individual has an emergency button displayed on their mobile device that will connect them directly with a BUPD dispatcher upon activation.

“Safety for students, faculty and staff runs paramount in the mission of the Baylor Police Department,” Rodman said. “We strive to educate the Baylor community on resources and information to better prepare them to keep themselves safe while at Baylor and beyond through programming and regular engagement.”

Rodman said to always be aware of your surroundings and to avoid dimly-lit or isolated areas.

“It is important that students always be alert and cautious of their surroundings whether they are on or away from campus,” Rodman said. “When traveling by foot, we advise students to always choose routes that will keep them in well-lit areas. As much as possible, especially in the evening, students on and off campus should always travel in pairs or groups. In any active emergency, or if students see suspicious activity on or adjacent to campus, they should immediately report the incident to BUPD at 254-710-2222 or Waco PD at 911 — or by using the BU Campus Guardian app.”