Eastern Michigan University Police Chief Bob Heighes announced last week that the Department of Public Safety plans to add 10 new officers to their police force by September 2014, with the intention of ramping up off-campus patrols and creating an additional crime response unit dedicated to investigating high-profile crimes.
The 10 new hires are set to join the force in phases. In January 2014, the DPS will see the addition of four new officers, another four in May 2014 and finally another two in September 2014.
Senior public law and government major Bobby Curry is a former Peninsular Place resident, and called 911 to report the sound of gunshots the night EMU student Destinee Leapheart was struck by a stray bullet in her sleep. He moved out of his Peninsular Place apartment the morning after this incident because he no longer felt safe there.
Curry is hopeful that EMU police’s increased patrol off campus will help create a safer environment.
“I’m very proud of the attentiveness of our university and local officials,” Curry said. “I have every reason to believe that they’ll be successful.”
However, Curry says he won’t be encouraged to live off campus again until he sees some results.
“We have been told in the past that there would be improvements, but we are continually plagued with [violence],” Curry said. “Time can only tell.”
EMU student Brandon Scott says he is heavily in favor of EMU police’s expansion and intention to patrol more off campus.
“I believe EMU needs to seriously step up their security, including police and more regulations for surrounding campus areas,” Scott said.
Curry explained that while visible law enforcement can be a crime deterrent, he is unsure that EMU police presence would stop criminals off campus since many people believe they don’t have an obligation to handle off campus issues.
Heighes also announced that DPS, Ypsilanti Police Department and the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office are collaborating to work on new safety initiatives with landlords in the area.
“Public safety is a regional issue and all of us are focused on creating the safest possible environment for our students, faculty, staff and neighbors,” Heighes said.
After his experience at Peninsular Place, Curry feels that collaboration between law enforcement and the apartment complex can only be effective if the landlord is more aware of the dangers in their area and more invested in the safety of their tenants.
“[Peninsular Place] would sugarcoat what was actually going on,” Curry said. “They need to accept the fact that it is dangerous there.”
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