University leaders and Columbus police discuss off-campus safety
Ohio State and city announce new resources to combat crime
Leadership and police from The Ohio State University joined members of the Columbus Division of Police today to address crime trends in the campus area.
Jay Kasey, senior vice president, Office of Administration and Planning, and Ohio State University Police Division Chief Kimberly Spears-McNatt joined Columbus Police Deputy Chief Jennifer Knight and Commander Dennis Jeffrey for a press conference in the University District neighborhood.
The message from Knight was to the point: “I’m here to tell those individuals that are victimizing the students out here… we will catch you, we will arrest you and we will prosecute you.”
The university and the city remain committed to enhancing safety and supporting students and campus neighbors.
“The most important thing for Ohio State, our students, our parents, our faculty and staff, is always safety, and for our students to be safe,” Kasey said. “Our leadership team has been engaged with the city of Columbus and working 24/7 to address neighborhood issues, including crime.”
The city and university are taking a comprehensive approach to make the campus area safer, including:
- Redeployment of additional Columbus Police officers to the area.
- An additional measure of the annual crime interdiction program which is comprised of CPD and OSUPD officers paid overtime to increase patrols.
- Increased non-sworn security patrols deployed by Ohio State.
- The university added light towers and cameras along pedestrian pathways.
- A new $369,900 state safety grant will help purchase and install new security cameras on campus.
Additional police are not the sole resources to stop crime in the area. Kasey said the university has a multifaceted approach that includes expanded ridesharing hours for the Lyft Ride Smart at Ohio State program, lighting, cameras, and recently hired a social worker to help those who have social needs in the campus area neighborhoods.
“I meet with many students and we understand that safety means different things to different people so law enforcement cannot be the only answer,” said Spears-McNatt. “We are going to take a holistic approach to try and solve this problem to keep all of our Buckeyes safe on or off campus.”
Spears-McNatt said the extra resources will make an impact, but that reducing crime will also require teamwork.
“I’m not just the chief of police, I am also a mom so I understand and share the concern for our student's safety,” she said. “In order for us to be successful, we must all work together – the university, the city, property owners, residents and visitors.”
Spears-McNatt encouraged students to take advantage of all of the resources available on campus, including free self-defense classes and the Rave Guardian app that allows students to have friends or family track them while they are walking alone.
The university continues to make progress on recommendations from the Task Force on Community Safety and Well-Being, with 13 of the 15 recommendations either fully or partially implemented.