Safety Update

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Given recent events, Bwog placed a call to Public Safety yesterday afternoon to find out how the department is reacting to Minghui Yu’s death and how they intend to make students feel more secure. [Edit: 3:24pm: Jim McShane email after the jump.]

According to Public Safety, officers do not currently patrol the area where Yu was attacked, around the Jewish Theological Seminary or the Teachers College—they are only permanently stationed at the Broadway and Amsterdam gates., “Officers were patrolling the area where Yu was attacked, both on foot and in vehicles. We have different guards at the gates and patrolling off campus,” said CU spokesperson Robert Hornsby in an email to Bwog. In an email from Associate Vice President for Public Safety Jim McShane, McShane announced that in recent months Columbia has been increasing its foot patrols and that as of last night, it had added an additional patrol vehicle (those massive SUVs you see crawling around campus).

The area around JTS and TC is monitored by surveillance cameras, but those are only used in investigating crimes and are not watched by officers. In reaction to Yu’s death, Public Safety said they will be hiring more officers to patrol the area and plan to redistribute the officers they do have.

More info: Public Safety operates two shuttle buses (one has a route west of campus, and the other, east) that you can catch from college walk that run from 7pm to 11pm and come every half hour. To get an escort to walk or drive you home from 8pm to 3am, call 212-854-SAFE. Bwog suggests you put that in your phone.


To the Columbia Community:

I am writing to inform you that the NYPD made an arrest early today in the tragic events of Friday evening that led to the death of PhD student Minghui Yu, a promising student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, whose loss is mourned by family, friends, colleagues and community. 

The subject of the arrest is a 14-year-old boy who will be prosecuted as a juvenile on the charge of manslaughter.

We are gratified and relieved that the police investigation has quickly resulted in an arrest in this case. In addition to the close relationship that we maintain with the NYPD, I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you again that your safety and security are our top priorities in the Department of Public Safety. To follow up on President Bollinger’s email yesterday, I would also like to share with you some of the specific things we are doing to safeguard our campus and to help ensure your safe passage throughout the community.

Uniformed Public Safety personnel are stationed at fixed locations throughout the Morningside area and at the Medical Center. These posts are supplemented by foot and motorized patrols that provide a highly visible presence around both campuses. In recent months, we have increased our foot patrols throughout the area, and, as of this weekend, we have added an additional patrol vehicle to expand our presence further within Morningside Heights.

We operate a series of shuttles to help ensure the safe travels of Columbians around and between our campuses. In addition to our intercampus service, we operate a Morningside Heights shuttle that provides scheduled service between 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Thereafter, we provide on-call service between 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. daily. This service ranges as far south as 103rd St. and as far north as 135th St. Resources permitting, we supplement this service with patrol vehicles. Recently, we added an additional point-to-point vehicle to provide additional shuttle service between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

We also offer an escort service where trained students, equipped with Public Safety radios, will accompany you to your door any time from 7:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m. This service is available between 108th St. and 122nd St. At the Medical Center, escorts are available between W. 165th Street and W. 181st St. For this escort service, call 212-854-SAFE on the Morningside Campus and 212-305-8100 at the Medical Center.

These and other measures are outlined in detail on the Public Safety website: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/publicsafety .

My team and I are here to keep you safe and sound. We look forward to working together with all of you, not only to keep our environment as safe as it is, but also to make our students, faculty and staff – and their families – feel safe. I encourage anyone with a concern to contact Public Safety at 212-854-2797, day or night.


James F. McShane

Associate Vice President for Public Safety

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  1. dear bwog  

    i actually have that number in my phone...i've called it a few times when i've needed a ride, and sometimes they don't pick up!! they really need to get on that.

  2. yeah  

    its not a good system. If they do come and you are not waiting outside for them they sometimes just leave. Obviously you are calling them because you don't want to be hanging out alone on the street... so its really dumb.

  3. Scott  

    I live where they're talking about. There is 1 public safety officer from 5 to 1 on the corner of Amsterdam and 121st (I'm presuming this is more because of the School of Social Work building and not because students live there). The only other place you see public safety is the car parked by the construction on 120th and Broadway.

    121st has a couple University Housing buildings on it, not to mention the back entrance(s) to Teachers College, and still there's not really any security presence.

    Keep in mind, I'm not talking about people living in their own apartments, but students (Graduate and GS) living in University housing on the edge of campus.

    I'm offended by PresBo's characterization of how "safe" the area is while they continue to ignore these things.

  4. brilliant

    Public Safety obviously needs huge massive SUVs in order to brave the treacherous off-road conditions of the Upper West Side.

    Patrol cars, maybe, but SUV's?

    • massive suvs?  

      the public safety suv are actually ford escape hybrids which are neither massive nor inefficient. They get way better gas mileage than the crown vic patrol cars, and are actually a lot smaller.

  5. hey,  

    public safety has really been stepping things up...they busted up the ADP party on saturday!

  6. eee

    Of course there are occasional incidents of crime in the area (it's a big city), and of course this one, with its especially tragic outcome, can make the Columbia area seem "not safe," but I think we need to keep a bit of perspective. Watch the local news, read the papers, keep up on the crime levels in the city generally - it's just not the case that crime is rampant, and I'm unconvinced that Columbia security could do much (though certainly more attentive guards would be nice) to bring the level down to something close to zero.
    Anecdotally, I am a grad student living east of M'side Park - there are tons of us, and we march through the park at most hours of the day and pretty late into the night. There are muggings too frequently, yes, but hundreds of people (young, white, and carrying valuable stuff) scamper all about there without incident. Perspective is difficult in the wake of tragedy, but I think it's called for at the same time that we brainstorm how to prevent tragedies in the future and reduce crime in our community.

  7. Alum

    It's "Jewish Theological Seminary", not "Jewish Theological Center". That's why its acronym is JTS and not JTC.

  8. also

    don't forget about plimpton, or the JTS undergrads living on 120th between Amsterdam and Morningside and 121st and Broadway. patrols would be welcome.

  9. Public Safety

    Just to give everyone some perspective on this. JTS, Barnard and Teacher's College all have their own Public Safety Department. Columbia's main campus Public Safety while the largest and having the most resources isn't actually responsible for the area around teacher's college. When everyone complains that Public Safety isn't protecting them, the criticism is misplaced because they aren't actually tasked with that area nor does the university give them the budget to hire officers to foot patrol or vehicle patrol that far north. Sure the department sends vehicle patrols up there because students do walk, but really they don't have the resources to have a full time presence. If you want a safer area, you should petition the university to either increase Teacher College Security budget or Columbia Public Safety budget and area requirements.

    Also, for the escorts, Public Safety performs several hundred escorts per week between the point to point shuttle, vehicle escorts and walking escorts. This amounts to a very busy call center at night and so it's not that your call isn't answered, but that the single dispatcher might actually be on the phone. Let it ring several times or try calling back in 1-2 minutes. Additionally, public safety has changed their procedures in the past 3 months, reacting to community feed back and now requires a call back number from all escorts. If the shuttle bus or patrol car driver or walking escorts cannot find you, they radio the base and the base will call you back on your cell to let you know they are there. This keeps you from having to wait on the street and helps the drivers find you.

  10. get real security

    I'm really offended by prezbo's attitude (like that's new). The area is far from secure, and if he really wanted to secure it he would. There are Columbia students living north of 120th, so it *is* Columbia's responsibility to partrol the area. But of course security guards are too busy sleeping in their booths and talking on their cell phones.

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