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MU police chief addresses letter to students, faculty

In a letter to Mizzou students and faculty Wednesday, the campus police chief addressed the issue of campus-wide alert messages.

R. Douglas Schwandt says some are blaming the rise in number of alerts on more crime. Schwandt says expanding technology which allows for a wider reach is the real reason more alerts are being sent out. He further attributes to early alerts the fact that no one from the MU community was seriously hurt in recent crimes.

Schwandt also spoke about sexual assaults on campus, saying a mandate to report such incidents has prompted more reports to be made. He added that this doesn’t mean more sexual assaults are happening.

The full text of Schwandt’s letter is below:

“Dear students, staff and faculty,

As you leave campus for the summer, I want to make sure you are aware of some important facts.

Recent emergency alerts have given the false impression that crime is rising in Columbia and on MU’s campus. Actually, crime in Columbia and on MU’s campus has not risen significantly over the past 20 years despite an increase in MU’s student population of more than 13,000 students.

The recent increase in the number of emergency alerts from MUPD is not indicative of an increase in crime or emergency situations; rather the increase in alerts is due to an expansion of technology that allows us to communicate more quickly and thoroughly as we have been asked to do by our community.

Getting information to our campus community in a timely way has increased our ability to identify and/or arrest offenders. During recent crimes, no one from the MU community was seriously harmed, except for the police officer who is recovering, and all of these crimes were solved quickly. We think those facts are attributable to early alerts.

MUPD has continued to incorporate, refine and develop strategies over the years to help maintain our campus safety. Some of those steps, strategies and community policing efforts include:

Increasing our University Police officer positions by 8 percent this past year;

Assigning supplemental patrol officers in an overtime capacity to our core campus during evening and late-night hours.

The new mandate to report sexual assaults is having the desired effect of prompting more individuals to come forward to report allegations of sexual assault. However, this does not necessarily mean that such offenses are increasing on the MU campus.

We hope you all have a wonderful summer break. Please know that the University of Missouri Police Department remains committed and professional in the policing efforts of our campus. We will be working all summer to assure continuing safety on MU’s campus and we look forward to seeing you in the fall. For additional information, please visit:

R. Douglas Schwandt MU‘80
Chief of Police
University of Missouri Police Department”

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