Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

University issues response to recent assaults

Editors note: The following message was sent to faculty, staff and students regarding the recent assaults near campus.

Recently, several serious assaults have been reported near the U-M campus.

At a news conference Wednesday, Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones said that while the police don’t know if the attacks are connected, we clearly "have a predator or predators operating in our community."

Officials from the Department of Public Safety and the Ann Arbor Police urged the community to be vigilant.

The recent reported assaults are very disturbing for all of us. The Department of Public Safety is working with the Ann Arbor Police as they investigate each of these off-campus incidents. Both agencies are increasing uniformed police patrols of these areas on and near central campus to increase visibility and ward off additional incidents.

The university is responding by taking action in a number of ways. Examples include:

• Increasing police on Central Campus during the late evening and early morning hours to both prevent and detect crime.

• Adding more patrols to the Central Campus. Ann Arbor Police are doing the same.

• Assigning extra detectives to work with Ann Arbor Police to help investigate each of these off-campus incidents.

• Providing additional safety and security information at new student orientation.

• Working even more closely with Ann Arbor Police, including additional information-sharing.

• Continuing to share crime prevention tips with the community through the media, crime alerts and the DPS website.

• Continuing to maintain our Emergency Blue Light phone system, including installation of phones around our newly constructed buildings.

It also is important to note that the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through our Crisis Line (734-936-3333). SAPAC provides support and assistance to survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment and stalking in the university community.

The university works as a partner with the AAPD, and together we are working to seamlessly provide the services our community members need.

We encourage all members of the campus community to follow strong crime prevention techniques:

• Be aware of your surroundings at all times. For example, don’t wear earphones or talk on the phone when walking, for example.

• Walk with a trusted friend whenever possible.

• Reduce vulnerability by monitoring alcohol intake.

• Attempt to walk in well-lit, high-traffic areas.

• Keep apartment and car doors locked.

• Consider late-night transportation options, including taxi services. There are several options including a bus service that provides transportation from central or north campus. Search “night transportation options” from the U-M Gateway.

• Immediately report suspicious behavior to police. Police would rather respond to a tip that turns out to be OK than be called after suspects have fled the area.

DPS also issued two important reminders:

• For university students and staff, sign up for UM Emergency Alert. The system sends a text and voice mail to your phone and email if there is an urgent situation. You can sign up through Wolverine Access.

• The Emergency Blue Light system functions all across campus, including parking structures. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, all you need to do is lift the receiver and it rings directly into DPS. Even if no one speaks on the other end of the line, DPS will send an officer to that location.

AAPD released two composite sketches of suspects at today’s news conference. Please visit the DPS website for additional details (including previously released composite and reward info) as well as case updates as they develop.

If you have any information about the assaults, please contact the Department of Public Safety at (734) 763-1131 or the Ann Arbor Police Department Tip Line at (734) 794-6939 or tips@a2gov.org. Individuals may also contact the Crime Stoppers Anonymous Tip Line at (800) SPEAK UP.

For background and updated campus community messages, visit http://vpcomm.umich.edu/pa/key/CampusSafety.html.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact our respective offices.

Sincerely,
Joe Piersante
U-M Interim Chief of Police

Laura Blake Jones
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs
Dean of Students

Holly Rider-Milkovich
Director, Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center