By Nick Amon —
As many of us are already aware of at this point, crime has become a prevalent issue here at U of L. This shouldn’t come as a shock to students, as reports of near-campus shootings and robberies have taken place over not only the past several months, but the past few years as well. More recently this issue has come to light after a series of two sexual assault cases that involved a carjacking, abduction, and larceny took place near campus just a few weeks ago. One of these cases, in particular, involved a U of L student who was allegedly forced into a stolen vehicle in the middle of the afternoon, right outside The Bellamy apartments.
Since the assaults, Louisville Metro Police has arrested two suspects – an eighteen-year-old Dezmeontai Lamont Tinsley and an accompanying sixteen-year-old. According to LMPD Spokesperson Dwight Mitchell, Tinsley has only admitted to the non-student case, which in return lead police to believe to search for a third suspect. It has since been announced this past Thursday that police have found a third suspect in connection to the assaults – a seventeen-year-old.
Now as if worrying about your classes and grades here at U of L wasn’t enough, it’s starting to seem as if students may need to start worrying about far more than regularly checking their Blackboard accounts. Instead, students may sadly find it more necessary to be checking each corner and intersection near U of L’s campus, just to safely get to and from class.
With an increasing amount of student dorms popping up all around the surrounding areas of campus, a few things become evident. U of L is making loads of money by selling real estate and contracting with developers who build student housing facilities, and more importantly, U of L’s student population is continuously growing.
The thing is, with more housing options being provided for a growing student population, has anyone ever stopped to ask the question whether or not other populations on campus are growing as well? More specifically, has the University of Louisville Police Department upped their officer count to compensate for the growth of student population? ULPD Lt. Col. Kenny Brown’s response to this was, “Yes, we now have 45 sworn officers.” This 45 includes the four additional officers ULPD hired a couple years ago after a stabbing near campus.
When asked whether or not he felt as if this was an adequate amount of officers to compensate for the student population, Brown reiterated, “We have adequate numbers at this time.” However, with U of L’s student population being roughly 22 thousand strong, that translates into nearly 500 students for every one ULPD officer. Feel safe yet?
Now it can definitely be argued that this ratio isn’t out of the norm for police departments and the communities they serve, yet in order to combat crime spikes in communities and or compensate for a growing population, departments often are permitted an increase in resources and officers, something that’s yet to happen on a significant scale for ULPD. And what does it take for this upscale to actually happen? As we’ve learned back in 2014, the only time things like this are considered are after a series of students have already been put in harms way.
It’s important that U of L realizes how much of a vital role ULPD has in terms of keeping students and faculty here at the university safe, and maybe it’s time for some of the budget money that’s spent on expansion and renovation around campus, to be spent on providing those with the ability to protect U of L’s community with the resources in which allows them to. I don’t know about you, but I know if I run into a shady situation in Old Louisville I’d be much more comfortable with the thought the police will be there to help me, rather than the thought of how great the SAC is going to look after its renovations are complete.
It should be noted that there have been efforts in the past by the SGA to “ensure” student safety and put our minds at ease — such as the ambiguously known ‘L Trail’ — but many students still feel that being safe near campus is becoming a thing of the past. A Twitter poll of The Cardinal’s followers showed that a majority 60 percent of the responders do not feel safe on and around campus after the recent incidents, with the other 40 percent of responders split between either not caring of the matter or somehow feeling safe amidst a campus full of crime. Regardless, in terms of addressing the matter of crime and its prevalence here at U of L, the conversation is long overdue.
Although projects like the aforementioned ‘L Trail’ represent a valiant effort in terms of keeping student minds at ease, it’s time we start to take a more intrinsic look at the crime issue here at U of L and deal with it, rather than accepting hollow projects that make you feel safe, but don’t actually increase your safety whatsoever. Until we take a serious and hard look at ourselves as a university, and start prioritizing student safety over renovations and expansion, nothing about this crime issue on campus will be solved. All in all, U of L’s aesthetic should never hold importance over the basic safeties we should feel as students. We’re in college, the biggest and most immediate of our fears should be whether or not we forgot about a paper due in one of our classes, not that we have an increased chance of falling victim to a serious crime on our way back from class.