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The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Suspicious person on campus serves as prompt for students to be ‘situationally aware’

By Lisa Potter

Staff Writer

“At 7:20 p.m., Campus Police received information that [Baltimore City Police] was in pursuit of a suspicious person from 208 W. Cold Spring Lane at the Royal Farms store and was heading toward Newman Towers. The suspicious person was described as a male with no shirt and khaki shorts,” read last week’s Campus Police Blotter. According to sophomore Chris Singlemann, the director of Student Affairs for the Student Government Association (SGA), this is the first time an unwanted person was reported on Loyola’s campus in about seven years.

After catching the suspicious person at the Lange Court gate area, Baltimore City Police (BCP) questioned the man concerning his activities at Royal Farms in what Public Safety Director Timothy Fox called a “field interview,” which is standard interviewing procedure for police.

“He was standing outside Royal Farms and he seemed kind of quirky,” said Director Fox. “City police talked to him on a hunch, and then he just ran all over Loyola…We issued a [no-trespass], and he was not armed.”

Despite there being a suspicious individual on campus, Loyola students did not receive an E2Campus text message or PM Evergreen email warning from Campus Police.

“Had [BCP] not caught the individual within 10 minutes, an alert would have been issued,” said Singlemann, who first heard about the incident from a friend and then called Campus Police. “We don’t want there to be so many that students become complacent…If there ever were an immediate danger to Loyola, you would be notified by Campus Police.”

Fox said that emergency alert text messages or emails are not to be issued unless the threat is imminent or continual. Additionally, he said that students are the best source of information for Campus Police and that they should call if they see anything suspicious.

Dennis Cornwall, training coordinator for Campus Police, defined a suspicious person as someone “who’s paying attention to things no one normally would.” He cited examples of someone looking into car windows, leaving a package under a bench or in a garbage can, asking unusual questions or following students into secure buildings without presenting a swipe.

“Your judgment in your gut is usually right,” said Fox. Cornwall agreed. “Your instincts are a defense mechanism,” he said.

Both men urged students to report suspicious persons to Campus Police, and to give an accurate description. Cornwall suggested paying attention to the person’s footwear since a criminal is more likely to change his or her clothes than shoes.

“Don’t confront that person, but call Campus Police,” said Cornwall. Fox added on that it is Campus Police’s job to confront the individual.

There are 55 officers that patrol Loyola’s campus on a daily basis. Fox explained that it is important for Loyola students to have 24-hour emergency support because there are a large number of residential students. Most colleges do not have as many students living on-campus. Fox used neighboring Towson University as an example, which only allows underclassmen to live on campus. Additionally, he said, because of this system there are few incidents of crime, and so people tend to overreact when there is one.

“We’re not in a bad spot. We’re near some of the most influential neighborhoods in Baltimore,” said Fox, who listed Homeland, Roland Park, Blythewood and Guilford Park as affluent and low-crime neighborhoods.

However, both Fox and Cornwall offered advice to students travelling in less secure areas, such as the York Road neighborhood. They stressed having situational awareness, which they defined as paying attention to one’s whereabouts, the people around and limiting the potential for loss.

“Know the areas that you’re traveling in,” said Fox, who suggested students avoid areas known to be troublesome.

Both men talked about situational awareness. “You don’t need to be texting while you’re walking. If you do it on campus, you’ll be OK, but not in the city,” said Fox, who also mentioned the recent trend in crime called “Apple Picking.” If students do not have their phones out, they are less likely to be confronted and robbed—first, because the robber will not know the student owns a phone, and second because the student will be paying more attention to his or her surroundings, and will not startle as easily as someone focused on a phone call or text.

“Half the battle with situational awareness is getting out of that everyday rut of not paying attention,” said Cornwall.

Cornwall also suggested that students who have cars on campus hide their GPSs or other valuables in their consoles, glove boxes or trunk to prevent criminals from breaking their windows and stealing their belongings.

When partaking in late-night weekend activates on York Road and elsewhere, Fox emphasized the importance of consuming alcohol in moderation, or designating someone to be responsible for the entire friend group for the duration of the night.

“[Criminals] see college students as prey. They’re observing students when the bars are making their last calls at 1:30—2:00 a.m. That’s when it’s most dangerous,” said Fox, who also said visibly intoxicated students are most vulnerable, despite the group numbers in which they may travel.

Campus Police also has numerous resources for students for preventing crime and educating students on how to handle emergency situations. Singlemann said there are educational videos designed to teach students how to handle themselves in crises. Campus Police also keep a crime log of local and some city crimes on its website that students may read if they are so inclined. If there ever is a crime involving a Loyola student, Campus Police will send crime notification emails to educate students and spread awareness about potential safety issues at Loyola and the surrounding areas.

Students wishing to report suspicious or criminal activity at Loyola should call 410-617-5911 or 911 if an emergency, and 410-617-5311 if the situation is not an emergency.

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Suspicious person on campus serves as prompt for students to be ‘situationally aware’