Be ‘street smart’
Victims focus of UA crime prevention
By DAVID L. TEIBEL
Professors, administrators and college chums are not the only ones glad to see University of Arizona students returning this week for the start of fall classes – so are Tucson’s criminals.
College students who fall victim to crime most likely will have something stolen from them.
And, said UA police Sgt. Eugene V. Mejia, most of the thieves – targeting such loot as books, laptop computers and bicycles – will come from off campus.
Mejia said crimes of violence on the UA campus are below the norm for campuses across the country.
While the rare violent crime grab the community’s attention, UA students are far more at risk to have something, often a bicycle, stolen, Mejia said.
Last year, 1,419 burglaries and thefts were reported to university police, including 524 bicycle thefts, according to UA police figures.
With this in mind, UA police also are welcoming students to campus, offering a range of crime prevention and personal security lectures aimed at dispelling some naivetE and instilling a little street smarts, Mejia says.
“We have participated, as an agency in every new-student orientation that has been conducted on campus, not only for students, but also for parents,” he said.
UA police and the university’s Oasis Center for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence teach sex crime prevention at orientation sessions.
Also, the Oasis Center offers prevention seminars on request and a 16-hour self-defense program for women, says Chad Sniffen, prevention educator for the center. It also offers counseling services .
Less than 5 percent of sexual assault or attempted sexual-assault victims on college campuses report the crime to police. More than half will never tell anyone about the attack, Sniffen said.
Since 1998, the number of sexual assaults reported to UA police have ranged from two to five a year. But that may be a gross under count of the sexual assaults in one way or another connected to campus life, Sniffen said.
Citing a 1997 to 1999 study funded with a U.S. Department of Justice grant, Sniffen said “They found that the rate of sexual assault of undergraduate college women is 5 percent a year – completed or attempted sexual assault.”
That means, he said, during a five-year college career, 25 percent of college women will be attacked.
The most common scenario of sexual attacks on college women is a date rape involving alcohol, Sniffen said.
While the assault may happen off campus and get reported to city police – if it is reported at all – there often is a tie to the campus, Sniffen said.
The attacker “usually is someone they (the women) meet at a party – or a classmate,” Sniffen said. “Stranger rapes happen about 10 percent of the time for college women.”
Sniffen said that to help avoid becoming a victim, women should learn to drink safely, with friends or other women.
Drink moderately and keep an eye on your drink to avoid someone dropping a date-rape drug into it.
And, know the person you go out with, “although that’s no guarantee,” Sniffen said. “I know women who were raped by friends – long-term friends.”
Men and women, Sniffen said, must clearly communicate desires – or what they don’t desire – to each other.
Police already are using some of the many on-campus, crime-prevention programs designed to help keep students safe, Mejia said.
Among them is the Whistle Stop Program implemented in 2002 when a serial sex offender “was plaguing the university area community,” he said.
Officers have been handing out loud whistles that can be used to summon help or call attention to a student in trouble. The whistles also have a small light on them and are designed to be used as a key ring.
For students on campus at night, there is the Safe Ride Program staffed by student volunteers. Anyone needing to get across campus at night, when few other people are around, can get a free ride or escort, by calling 621-SAFE.
Students – or anyone – also can call the campus police dispatcher from any of at least 120 blue emergency phones placed throughout the campus. The dispatcher will call the Safe Ride Program for them, Mejia said.
The blue emergency phones are also in parking garages. They are mounted on blue poles with “emergency” printed in white letters.
By picking up the receiver and pressing the only button on the dial pad, a person will immediately be connected to a UA police dispatcher, Mejia said. That also sets off a blue strobe light mounted on top of the phone pole to draw attention to the area and help police officers find the caller quickly, Mejia said.
Scott Flabetich, a 19-year-old sophomore from Vancouver, Wash., said his freshman orientation last year included a crime-prevention seminar.
“It was very informative and I think it really helped that it was required,” he said.
Flabetich, a resident of Cochise Hall, 1018 E. South Campus Drive, said his mother was concerned about campus crime, but worried less after attending one of the police seminars.
“All in all, parents are very concerned about safety on campus, also because it’s an urban campus,” he said. “I thought there was very minimal crime, I didn’t think crime on campus was a big thing.”
Flabetich, a history and political science major, has never been a crime victim, but worries somewhat about theft.
“Like, with my bike and stuff I do, because UA has a bike theft problem,” he said.
Crime prevention seminars for students are conducted throughout the school year, Mejia said.
Flabetich said he does not worry about becoming a violent-crime victim, “because you always see UAPD around and there are those blue things (campus emergency phones) all over.”
“The campus environment is one of safety,” Mejia said. “That’s good and it’s bad: We want our students to feel safe, but we don’t want them to let down their guard and become a crime victim.”
He is concerned that students carry their reassurance of safety off campus into the city, which last year saw 6,717 burglaries, 32,539 larceny thefts, 338 sexual assaults, 1,350 robberies, 2,974 aggravated assaults and 51 murders reported, according to the Tucson Police Department.
Some students, “venturing away from home for the first time, not well-versed in what can happen in life, are a little naive about what can happen on or near campus,” Mejia said.
“We know these students will not remain on campus 24 hours a day and the likelihood of them becoming a violent crime victim increases when they step off campus,” he said.
That makes the crime prevention information campus police offer to students even more important, he said.
WHO TO CALL
For more information from UA’s Oasis Center for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence or to talk to a counselor, call 626-2051 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Oasis Center’s prevention educator Chad Sniffen says about 50 women a year who need to talk to someone about having been a sex-crime victim (not necessarily while in college) contact the Oasis Center.
For counseling at any time, Sniffen says, call the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault, (800) 400-1001.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
University of Arizona police have these crime prevention tips for students. A complete list of tips may be found on the UA police Web site at www.uapd.arizona.edu/.
- Use the Whistle Stop Program. Officers have been handing out loud whistles that can be used to summon help or call attention to a student in trouble. The whistles also have a small light on them and are designed to be used as a key ring.
- At night, use the Safe Ride Program staffed by student volunteers. Someone needing to get across campus at night, when few other people are around, can get a free ride, or an escort, by calling 621-SAFE. Students also can call the campus police dispatcher from any of at least 120 blue emergency phones oncampus, and the dispatcher will call the Safe Ride Program for the student.
- Use blue light emergency phones that are placed around campus and in parking garages. They are mounted on blue poles with white lettering reading “emergency.”
- Lock the door to your apartment or residence hall when you are alone, asleep or out of the room.
- Do not open your door to strangers. If your door has a peep hole, use it.
- When going out, let someone know where you are going, with whom and when you expect to return.
- At night, travel in well-lit areas. Avoid taking shortcuts through dark or deserted areas. Walk with others.
- If you feel threatened or suspect that you are being followed, walk toward lighted areas where there are people.
- When riding in a car, keep the doors locked. Park in the most lighted area you can find. On returning to your car, have your keys ready as you approach your vehicle. Check the back and front seats to make sure the car is empty before you get in.
- Keep windows closed and locked when away from your room or apartment.
- Keep your valuables out of sight.
- Do not keep large sums of cash in your room or apartment. Keep your checks in a secure place. Do not talk indiscriminately about receiving money.
- Lock your car and take the keys with you.
- Do not leave valuable items unattended in your car. Place expensive items such as cameras, packages and even textbooks in the locked trunk.
- Do not leave personal property unattended.
- Carry your purse or backpack close to your body, and keep a tight grip on it.
- Never leave your bicycle or moped unlocked and unattended.
- Engrave your bicycle or moped with your name or drivers license number and keep a record of it with a description of the bike and serial number.
IN RESIDENCE HALLS
- During security hours, always leave and enter through the main entrance.
- Never let guests into the building through any door other than the main entrance.
- Never admit uninvited nonresidents into the building.
- Do not let strangers into the building as your guests.
- Report any unescorted person or stranger to police at once.
- Do not lend the keys to your room or your student identification card to anyone.
- Never prop open any exterior door or interior fire doors.
- Never go onto ledges outside your window.
Triple murder of nursing professors most heinous crimes at UA
By DAVID L. TEIBEL
While most crime on the University of Arizona campus is nonviolent property crime – thefts – a string of shocking violent crimes have rocked the campus over the past two years.
UA police Sgt. Eugene V. Mejia noted several violent, high-profile campus crimes have occurred since 2001.
A triple murder at the Nursing College last year marked the first on-campus slayings in UA’s history.
A string of sex crimes last year included six assaults by a man who sneaked into residence halls. And a man is accused of a series of sexual assaults and other sex crimes, mostly on city streets near the school between October 2001 and May 2002.
The violent crimes:
• Oct. 28, three professors at the college of nursing were killed by a heavily armed, failing student, Robert S. Flores Jr., 41. He then shot and killed himself.
Killed in the attacks were Robin Rogers, 50; Barbara Monroe, 45; and Cheryl McGaffic, 44. No students were injured.
While those killings were the first on campus, UA police have investigated two other off-campus, UA-related killings since 1990.
• Aug. 24, 1990, during a fracas at an off-campus fraternity party, Cpl. Kevin Barleycorn was inadvertently shot and killed by a fellow officer. The two had gone to quell the disturbance, which centered around a group of party crashers.
After the officers arrived, one of the party crashers reportedly fired a revolver into the air. As Barleycorn lunged at the man the other officer fired, hitting Barleycorn.
The gunman, Eddie Morris Myers Jr., pleaded guilty to manslaughter, was sentenced to five years in prison and served two years and two months, before being granted clemency and released in 1994.
• March 25, 1998, the body of John L. Hughes, a 44-year-old homeless man, was found in a drainage ditch at UA’s ecological research station on Tumamoc Hill west of downtown near “A” Mountain. He had been shot to death.
Julio Caesar Tapia, now 21, was convicted of second-degree murder in the case and is serving a 16-year prison sentence.
• On at least six occasions in April 2002, a man sneaked into several residence halls, peering at women as they showered, sexually assaulting one and attempting to sexually assault five others.
UA police tracked down the man after he almost ran over a campus police officer while fleeing the scene of one of the attacks.
Esteban Rodriguez, a moving company employee, was convicted of burglary, kidnapping, aggravated assault and sexual assault in an April 20, 2002, incident. He is serving a 21-year prison sentence.
While suspected of victimizing six women, Rodriguez was charged with felonies only in the April 20 attack of a student in a residence hall shower stall.
“That’s the one that sent him away . . . that’s the one that cooked him,” Mejia said.
• In another assault just five days later, April 25, 2002, a 21-year-old UA student was sexually assaulted in a campus parking garage at North Park Avenue and East Helen Street.
A man forced the woman into her car, assaulted her and fled.
Mejia said no arrest has been made in the case.
In 2001, starting with two attacks Oct. 3 at homes near campus, a man preyed on several women, mostly in the UA area – physically or sexually assaulting them in a series of crimes ending May 30 last year.
In those incidents, James Allen Selby, 36, faces various charges, including sexual assault, aggravated assault, kidnapping and attempted murder for allegedly slashing a woman’s throat.
In July in Colorado, he was convicted of sexual assault and burglary in an attack on a 55-year-old Colorado Springs-area woman. He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced later this year.
It is unclear when he will face trial here. California, Nevada and Oklahoma also want him to stand trial for attacks on eight women and children.
• Earlier this month, UA police arrested Carl L. O’Neal after a woman was seen running from the Tyndall Avenue parking garage.
O’Neal, 22, had been following the woman Aug. 3, videotaping her as she walked, UA police said.
On the tape was footage of her from the waist down, as well as footage of other women and footage of a woman who appeared to have been videotaped through her bedroom window, Mejia said. O’Neal was charged with harassment in the Tyndall garage incident.
But that may be a gross undercount of the sexual assaults connected to campus life, said Chad Sniffen, prevention educator for UA’s Oasis Center for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence.
UA 1998-2002 CRIME REPORTED/ARRESTS
2002 2001 2000 1999 1998
Crime reported/arrests reported/arrests reported/arrests reported/arrests reported/arrests
Homicide 3/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/0
Sexual assault 5/1 4/0 3/0 2/0 4/0
Attempted sex assault 1/NA 2/0 0/0 0/0 1/0
Aggravated assault 13/4 20/4 11/8 10/5 11/12
Robbery 4/0 10/1 5/1 7/3 1/0
Burglary 115/3 94/17 89/3 127/8 142/4
Theft* 717/(all)55 786/(all)45 756/(all)72 776/(all)63 587/(all)54
Bike theft 524/NA 301/NA 287/NA 224/NA 225/NA
Auto theft 63/3 65/2 45/3 37/5 35/0
*Arrests includes all arrests for thefts other than auto thefts.
Source: University of Arizona Police Department
PHOTO CAPTIONS: FRANCISCO MEDINA/Tucson Citizen
College student Patricia Borunda, who had parked several blocks away from class, gets a lift Tuesday night from Safe Ride driver Osama Ahmad.
TRICIA McINROY/Tucson Citizen
Cassandra Miles, 17, a University of Arizona freshman from Payson, discusses the use of a police whistle with UA officer Cpl. Juan Alvarez.