As the fall semester begins, the UT Police Department has begun adjusting to thousands of students moving back to campus and into the surrounding apartment complexes.
After members of UTPD spent the summer taking vacations and working on areas to improve, UTPD Chief David Carter said the officers are now preparing to increase their interactions with students during the school year, especially incoming freshmen.
“The busiest time for UTPD, of course, is when we have the beginning of a new semester,” Carter said. “We just have a lot of new faces … (and) a lot of young people that may be just getting away from home for the first time coming to a new environment.”
Carter said UTPD has implemented a new district representative program where students can communicate their nonemergency concerns to UTPD officers designated to areas around campus.
“We now have officers that are working specific districts, (and) all of them are responsible for not only keeping the district safe but also addressing issues and solving problems with the community,” Carter said. “We really want our students to reach out (and) get to know your officers in your district … and let them be aware of your concerns.”
Carter said typically during the first few weeks of every year, UTPD always responds to an increased amount of alcohol-related calls because many students are being introduced to alcohol for the first time in a college environment.
“We always encourage people, if there is somebody that … may be having a medical issue (to) call us without delay so we can get that person evaluated in terms of their safety and medical well-being,” Carter said.
Carter also said UTPD sees an increased number of property crimes like bicycle and laptop thefts because of an increase in the number of bicycles and students.
“Property crime is one of the things that is probably mostly preventable just by being aware and not necessarily just assuming that you can walk away from your property,” Carter said.
After learning that alcohol and property theft are common issues on campus during the first few weeks of the school year, mechanical engineering freshman Jacqueline Kelly said she is planning to take extra precautions.
“I plan on not leaving my backpack out places and keeping it on my person at all times and also making sure all my belongings are locked in my room,” Kelly said. “It’s also important to keep your (drink) on your person (during parties) and make sure that nobody else has access to that.”
Architectural engineering freshman Cassandra Prince said while she already feels safe on campus, UTPD and the new district representative program provide her with an increased sense of a security.
“UTPD has been around college students for a while, and they know what to expect, but they also know best how to keep us safe,” Prince said. “It definitely seems like (UTPD) knows the area, the city and their students very well.”