Buckeye Block Watch promotes safety in University District
Patrols act as eyes and ears for safety concerns
A new program to help keep students safe off campus is making an impact in the community.
“We do safety patrols. We’re out as a deterrent for the criminal element that’s coming on the campus [area],” said Thomas Claypool, operations manager for Block by Block. “If we see anything, we immediately report it to the police, when otherwise it might not get reported.”
The Buckeye Block Watch teams are out on foot, on bikes and in a Buckeye Block Watch vehicle. They are meant to be highly visible in the community, wearing bright orange gear.
The non-sworn security are not law enforcement officers, and do not have arrest powers or carry firearms. They are given extensive training in how to deal with difficult situations and learn best practices for public engagement, including mental health responses, first aid and CPR.
“We’re kind of like that buffer zone between actually calling the police,” Claypool said. “If somebody doesn’t feel safe, we can escort them home.”
The team also offers security escorts to students and reports neighborhood safety hazards like defective streetlights or broken sidewalks. What may seem like tiny steps can make a big difference.
“One of the biggest things that I always love to look for is just when streetlights are out,” said Brittany Doyle, site supervisor with Community Crime Patrol. “I think that’s one of the biggest factors with community safety, just having well-lit areas.”
Buckeye Block Watch patrols are separate and distinct from The Ohio State University Police Division, Columbus Division of Police, and the non-sworn security patrols Ohio State has in place using Campus Service Officers or private security firms.
The patrols work in the neighborhood on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Claypool said the team and their bright orange uniforms are becoming more familiar to students and the off-campus community. That alone can act as a crime deterrent.
“We’re like walking traffic cones out there,” he said. “We want to be visible. We want people to see us. Being out there is a deterrence in and of itself and being visible is important.”