11/17/19 Taser

Some students carry stun guns or other forms of self-defense when walking around campus.

Though Purdue and its police department offer myriad programs to promote campus safety, its previously high national safety ranking actually went down this year.

The University was nationally ranked as the 12th safest college campus in 2018, but lost that title in 2019, going by the National Council for Home Safety and Security, the same ranking body Purdue has prided itself on in the past.

Despite also placing 14th in 2017, Purdue — and no other Indiana college — was ranked this year.

Purdue Police Department Capt. Song Kang believes a change in NCHSS’s methodology is to blame, but he has yet to hear back from the council.

“This is exactly why we do not constantly ‘chase’ the national rankings, since there are so many factors that fluctuate and influence their ‘scientific’ data,” Kang said via email.

National rankings for campus safety can be difficult to measure, as variables such as location and size may influence the report’s results. In comparison to two other Big Ten universities, IU — the only other Big Ten university in Indiana — and Ohio State, the Big Ten’s largest university, Purdue does not always reign as the “safest campus” depending on the crime.

Using each university’s security reports for reference, Purdue had the highest number of reports for liquor law disciplinary referrals for 2018. The next highest was Ohio State, with 345 fewer counts.

Between the three, Purdue also has the second-most reports for rape and liquor law arrests.

On the other hand, Purdue had the lowest number of robberies and burglaries of the three.

PUPD continues to enact policies attempting to make the campus a safer place. PUPD Chief John Cox credits the University’s use of technology as the driving force in campus safety. For example, blue lights and emergency telephone systems are placed around campus for students who may feel unsafe during any time of the day.

Another factor for campus safety is maintaining the quality and upkeep of streetlights, bike paths and sidewalks, Cox said.

He also said certified law enforcement officers are a large factor in keeping students safe. The University boasts access to two ambulances, a fire department with airport certifications and a police department solely dedicated to the university.

Members of PUPD headed to Kentucky this past weekend to receive re-accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. CALEA, known as, “the gold standard in public safety,” is granted to less than 1% of law enforcement agencies, Cox said.

Police departments must go through a series of five steps: enrollment, self-assessment, assessment, commission review decision and maintaining accreditation.

“As a student, or staff or faculty member,” Cox said, “rest assured that the officers that come to assist you are some of the best-trained police officers in the state of Indiana.”

Purdue follows a number of programs and initiatives to try to improve the future of Purdue safety.

Purdue takes part in the Department of Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” program, as well as having the Purdue Student Security Patrol, which maintains safety features on campus.

Additionally, Purdue’s S.A.F.E. program introduces young women to self-defense through a two-and-a-half-hour session. “Candy Bars and Consent” reinforces consent etiquette and laws to students.

Despite safety initiatives, one student still has her concerns about campus safety.

“When I’m walking at night, I don’t feel as safe,” said Kamilah Valentin, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts. “When I hear things that have happened, I think about how that could happen to anyone.”

Even though Valentin said she sometimes feels unsafe at night, generally she feels at ease on campus.

“Usually, I feel pretty secure. ... I know that I can get to a building or somewhere safe pretty quickly.”

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