National Night Out Focused on Safety

November 01, 2022 By: Victoria Ralls

UT Police’s annual National Night Out (NNO) happens every year on the first Tuesday of October. This year, on October 5, the event was held virtually and addressed safety on campus. The “Safety Showcase” went live at 3 p.m. to our MD Anderson and UTHealth Houston communities.   

A recording of the event can be viewed here. 

Kicking off the event was Community Outreach Officer Manny Leston who gave an overview of the UT Police safety classes offered both in-person and virtually. He also spoke briefly on tips to stay safe on campus and reminded attendees to secure their belongings at all times to remove the opportunity for a crime to occur. 

We really cannot do anything about somebody’s desire to commit a crime against you or their ability to commit that crime,” Leston said. The one thing that we can affect is removing the opportunity. Another important tip included paying attention to your surroundings, walking with confidence, and having strong body language especially in parking garages. Mobile phones are a significant distraction. 

Also presenting was Inspector Viola Douglas who highlighted the Jeanne Clery Act and the annual reporting the act requires of institutions of higher learning. UT Police publishes its report – due by October 1 each year that requires colleges and universities to report campus crime data, provide guidance and support resources for victims of violence, and publicly outlines the policies and procedures put in place to improve campus safety. 

Inspector Covell Johnson spoke at NNO on crime statistics nationally and in the Texas Medical Center, and on what UT Police is doing about crimes. 

We don’t just take in reports of violent crime or property crimes, we also implement mitigating strategies to make the campus safe and our surroundings community safe.” Johnson discussed efforts by UT Police to create improvements to surveillance to parking garages which include increased police presence with uniformed and plain clothed officers, camera trailers, camera enhancements, and barriers in place to limit access.   

Johnson continued by showing video surveillance footage of prior thefts on campus, reminding attendees to keep phones, tablets, and expensive items locked and out of sight. Arrests made on campus were also highlighted, including catalytic converter theft suspects and other offenders. 

Ending the “Safety Showcase” was Captain Doran Preacher. 

Crime does occur [on campus] but nowhere near the magnitude, the rate, or the severity of the surrounding areas in the rest of the city of Houston,” Preacher said, attributing the lower incidence in part due to the partnership UT Police has with the people in the community. 

Preacher discussed how the department uses data to drive decisions such as where to place officers and investigate crimes, and how to get out in front of them to create programs and initiatives to stop crimes from occurring. Preacher further discussed catalytic converter thefts, why they are happening, and which vehicles are most targeted. A video showed how quickly thieves can steal a catalytic converter – in under 40 seconds. 

For additional information on preventing crimes, visit resources in the Campus Safety section of this website. 

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