UCO Named 9th Safest College In America
(Cara Johnson/ The Vista).
The University of Central Oklahoma has been named the ninth safest college in America in 2017 by Alarms.com, who studied over 2,167 public, private and not-for-profit colleges across the country.
“It is nice to get outside confirmation about what we already knew about UCO being one of the safest places in the country,” said UCO Chief of Police, Jeff Harp.
The rankings were created based off of data accumulated from the National Center for Education Statistics and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting. Colleges and universities with no crime information listed were excluded from the list of over 2,000 institutions.
The data used in the study is required information by the Jean Clery Act that is submitted yearly, according to Harp. It compiles on campus crime data with non-campus property, such as fraternity and sorority houses, and local crime data from the community around campus.
Harp said for its population, Edmond has a low crime rate, which contributes to UCO’s safety. This factor helped in the study, as local crime accounted for 50 percent of the crime totals data.
“UCO has the best campus police force possible,” said Harp. “While we may be small, our staff is incredible.”
The UCO Police Department has multiple initiatives in place, alongside normal duties, to continue making the campus safe.
SafeWalk is one of the main initiatives that has been in place for many years. Students can request an officer to accompany them across campus or to their car if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe. New yellow boxes are being installed around campus to ensure easier access to SafeWalk buttons.
The Rave Guardian app was a new initiative this past year and will be pushed more in the coming year. It allows students to fill in their name, photo, and medical information for campus police to access in case of emergency. The app includes a button to contact police with your information and GPS location, along with the option to set safety timers and designate guardians.
Ambassador initiative, a community policing program, partners every officer on the force with at least one group on campus. The objective is to build relationships and trust between officers and students in various groups, like Student Alliance For Equality (SAFE), international students, and housing. Students can work with their officer to identify problems and discuss concerns.
In the coming weeks, a new electronic access control system will be installed on the ground floor doors of every building on campus, according to Harp. Student ID cards can be swiped to gain access to buildings outside of normal hours.
Doors will be locked and unlocked on a schedule, with select access outside of these hours. Lists of who can access the buildings will be similar to current ones that require an officer to manually let in students and staff.
This will allow UCO police to lock down campus in a matter of seconds in an emergency. “This system along with surveillance cameras will put us ahead of other campuses,” said Harp.
The study provides important information for current and prospective students and their families, according to Harp. He hopes it will motivate more people to call campus police and ask questions so that they can get a sense of how safe campus is.
“As for the future, we will continue to do what we do,” said Harp, “to keep UCO one of the safest [colleges] in the country.”
For further information on safety measures and initiatives, UCO police want students, faculty, and prospective families to contact them directly at 405-974-2345 or firstname.lastname@example.org.