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Tuesday, July 05, 2022
The independent student publication of The Unversity at Buffalo, since 1950

Crime and Punishment: Safety in the University Heights

When sophomore business major Casey Prozeller came home to her apartment last week, she expected to flip on the television and check her e-mail. Instead, she discovered that the cable wires had been ripped from the side of her Minnesota Avenue apartment.

According to John Grela, crime in the University Heights is an "ongoing problem," but despite recent high-profile crimes such as gang shootings on South Campus and muggings in the Heights, the University Police said the crime rate is not any higher this year than in the past.

"If I could eliminate crimes, that'd be wonderful," said Grela. "But we are not isolated from the larger society."

Grela said he believes that University Police "does a better job than most" other urban campuses equal to UB's size.

"University Police have a team approach with Student Affairs and work closely with the Buffalo and Amherst police departments to solve our problems," said Grela.

University Police has a "memorandum of understanding" with the Buffalo Police, where the University Police does not intercede in cases of crime in the Heights unless they are asked to do so, and the same rule applies to Buffalo Police interceding in campus crimes, Grela said.

"Area criminals know when the kids are at school, they know when to break in, and the burglaries are pretty steady throughout the year," said Lt. Guy Zagara of the Buffalo Police Department.

The University Police made a total of 163 arrests on campus last year, according to Grela. However, Grela said that might be "a judgment of how good the police department is, not the level of crime on campus."

Daniel Britt, a senior psychology major, has lived in the University Heights for three years. He said crime is a significant problem and that "people around (the Heights) run around like rabid dogs."

"I wake up with the fear and go to bed with the fear," said Britt.

To counteract the effects of being located in an urban area, Grela said UB takes several measures to ensure the safety of University Heights residents.

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Britt said he feels crime has increased on campus. When he was a freshman, his home was broken into once, and as a junior, his home was burglarized twice.

Grela sits on the Anti-Crime Task Force, a University Heights team composed of UB police representatives along with community leaders and residents of the University Heights area.

UB also runs a number of programs to ensure the safety of students living off-campus, said Grela. Those programs include brochures that educate students on crime prevention and safety, sexual assault and rape, and motor vehicle safety.

"Operation Doorhanger" is one such safety program undertaken by UB in an effort to keep residents safe, said Grela. Residents are given information such as emergency numbers, government representatives and procedures for maintaining a safe residence.

The Buffalo Police Department has a Burglary Task Force in place around South Campus, and they investigate the crimes and analyze any trends that may occur, said Zagara.

In order to provide students residing in the Heights with a greater sense of safety, Britt said the Anti-Rape Task Force should provide residents with rides to and from their homes and campus.

Ben Cady, a sophomore English major, lives on Heath Street, with members of the UB Cross-Country team.

"It's hard not to be shaken up when you hear of the latest crime in the Heights, but (my roommates) and I accept the threat as part of the trade-off for living in an urban community," Cady said. "If you take the right precautions it's possible to feel safe - and be safe - despite the threat."



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