Over the past few weeks, campus text alerts regarding crime in the surrounding Springfield area have increased.
Alerts such as “SHOTS FIRED” and “ARMED SUSPECT” are just two examples of the types of messages students and anyone else who has signed up for the E2CAMPUS alerts receive via text message or email when a crime in a nearby location occurs.
When these messages are sent out, students are advised to stay indoors in a safe location or to travel in groups if they must leave their area. The Springfield Police Division investigates the crime directly, while the Wittenberg University Police Division patrols the adjacent campus area.
Chief James Hutchins of the Wittenberg University Police Division said that he has worked for both the Springfield (’89-’14) and Wittenberg (’14-present) police divisions over the past 27 years, and has seen transitions of various neighborhoods whenever people move in and out.
“The Springfield Police Division does an excellent job of identifying issues in each neighborhood,” Hutchins said, “and tailoring their response to fit the needs of the neighborhood.”
However, even with all the work that the police divisions do for students, Hutchins said that it is also important that students are aware and active in creating their own safe environments.
“Lock your doors and windows when you leave your residence or vehicle, know who is in your house, and if there are unwanted guests in your residence, call the police,” Hutchins said. “We can assist with removing unwanted guests. If you find yourself alone and afraid, don’t forget about the Blue Cap phones on campus.”
These phones call the police dispatch immediately, and can have someone out to assist anyone in need right away.
On Monday, April 25, students who are signed up for the alerts received the following message:
“SHOTS FIRED. 10:11 a.m. Report of shots fired in area of Madison Elm St – Stanton Ave. Blk Male on foot. Stay/move to secure location. Check email.”
Michelle Murray, ’17, said that she likes to believe campus is a safe place, but has recently become concerned.
“With the recent texts, all happening in a short span of time so close to campus, it’s scary,” Murray said. “When we get texts during the daytime, that’s what worries me about my safety the most.”
Hutchins said that the Wittenberg police officers patrol campus 24/7 in order to address and identify any safety concern at any hour of the day.
“These issues may come from campus community members our from individuals from outside or campus community,” Hutchins said. “To provide a safe environment, we enforce university policies, city ordinances and state laws.”
He continued by emphasizing that campus security and safety is everyone’s responsibility, not just the police division’s. He said that each person must take an active role and call whenever something does not look or seem right.
Ryan Myers, ’16, said that he believes with all the protection offered from the police division, campus is a safe place.
“I think campus security is doing what they can to keep us safe,” Myers said. “The areas that we are getting the text alerts for are usually off campus, [and] I think it is more on the Springfield [Police] Department.”
The dispatch center can be reached at 937-327-6231. Officers are ready to respond, and will be dispatched immediately to address any of these concerns.