Emory Report

February 16, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 21

EmoryWatch helps community
keep an eye out for safety

In order to involve the University community more closely in crime prevention and awareness, Emory Police Department has launched EmoryWatch, an initiative modeled after neighborhood watch programs.

By cultivating coordinators in schools and departments, who serve as liaisons to co-workers, EPD's constituents can inform the police of obstacles to safety and be warned themselves of high-risk areas.

"We've had a real good response with EmoryWatch; I get a lot of e-mails about bushes that need to be cut back, lighting problems," said Cheryl Elliott of EPD crime prevention and community relations. EmoryWatch is Elliott's brainchild, and she said the program is important because it allows her to see the issue of public safety from a different perspective-the public's.

"Police officers spend a lot of time on patrol, and they write a lot of building reports or ground reports, but they still are not walking the streets," Elliott said. "Their sense of safety is a lot different than, say, students or a faculty member walking back to their car."

"There are thousands more sets of eyes and ears in the community than we have in the police department," said EPD Chief Craig Watson. "Through sheer volume, the members of the community are going to observe areas of concern more frequently than we can by ourselves. Through the developing partnership with the community, we can learn of those areas of concern and address them appropriately."

EmoryWatch is now recruiting coordinators to serve as liaisons to University departments. The program's goal of public involvement fits into the police department's overall desire to improve communication with the University community, according to Watson.

Police can't always identify the public's concerns about safety, Watson said, and by establishing more open communication between law enforcement officals and the people they protect, it's easier to get things done even if they don't fall under the rubric of police work. For instance, a meeting in December between EPD officers and students revealed a concern about lighting along Haygood Drive. The issue worked its way to the Facilities Management Division, which then coordinated with DeKalb County get street lights along Haygood replaced with brighter fixtures.

"That's not our job-we don't do lighting-but it is our job," Watson said. "If we can at least pass that concern along to the right people, we can get the ball rolling. We want to get away from the 'that's not our job' mentality. We want to be more visible, more accessible."

Other steps to this end include beefing up the department's bicycle patrol-Watson said he's requested funding for two full-time bike patrol officers in next year's budget-keeping the EPD open after hours with student patrol officers and promoting more educational programs. EPD gives presenations on many safety issues at freshman orientation, and Elliott offers specialized talks to departments that request them.

"The University is a very safe environment," Elliott said. "That doesn't minimize what happens to anyone, but on average most campuses are safe environments. It can get better with more crime prevention and risk reduction techniques, which we are trying to provide to everyone in the community."

Anyone interested in volunteering or in having an EmoryWatch presentation scheduled should call 404-727-BIKE.

-Michael Terrazas

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