We have a serious safety issue at the University of Toledo.
The problem? No one is communicating with students about crime or concerned about fixing gaps in security, leaving students vulnerable.
It was only a matter of time before something happened, and something did.
Last week, seven cars parked in the University of Toledo East Ramp parking garage were found to have their windows shot out.
According to an article by 13 ABC, there were BB gun pellets found at the scene, and the UTPD said they were “reviewing surveillance video.” The article later mentioned that UTPD had no suspects at the time and no other information had been published.
No UT Alert was sent out about the incident, and UTPD did not respond to a request for the police report by press time.
This is one of the most severe crimes to have been committed on UT campus this semester. Seven cars parked on UT property were vandalized and no one informed the community.
To make matters worse the UTPD informed the only press that's covered the incident that they would “review surveillance footage.” According to the UTPD’s own source, quoted in an article by the IC earlier this semester, the only footage available is at the entrance.
There is more than one exit to that parking garage.
It took all of three seconds for us to realize that, if the vandalism occurred on the first floor of the east garage (which it did, according to 13 ABC), the back door opens up to a dirt path that leads to two DIFFERENT streets heading off campus, with no cameras in sight.
We’re guessing the vandals probably figured that out too.
This issue is one of many the Independent Collegian addressed early last month in an editorial titled “Parking garage safety and what we can do about it,” highlighting the continued need for the university to consider the gaps in safety in these parking spaces.
However, one issue that editorial did not address was the UTPD not informing students, and other community members, via UT Alerts about crime in the area.
According to their own timely warning guidelines, “The University of Toledo issues a campus crime alert when a crime is reported to the University of Toledo Police Department or the City of Toledo Police Department and it is determined that such offense represents a threat to the safety of the University of Toledo community.”
The UTPD website states that they attempt to get information out via UT Alert within 48 hours, and will do so when there is a danger to students and the information will not impede law enforcement efforts, on a case-to-case basis.
However, only two alerts are reported for this year on the webpage, both for robberies at Gateway Plaza. UTPD has also sent out notices about a gas leak and power outage, and sexual misconduct investigations so far this year. The alerts are coupled with just as many tests of the alerts as actual ones.
However, when compared to the Toledo Police Department crime map, it’s clear that 32 incidents have been reported at or around the University of Toledo since Sept. 4, including two robberies at University Hills.
Adding the vandalism on campus, this makes it 33 incidents.
According to UTPD’s own criteria, any continuous danger to students or community members should be reported on, and robberies notoriously fit the criteria.
So why weren’t the two robberies at University Hills, or any of the other 30 crimes committed in less than a half mile radius from campus reported to UT students?
How does vandalism with a BB gun, affecting seven people not something that poses an immediate danger to the UT community?
We don’t have all of the facts about each of these cases and a majority happened off campus. However, the sheer number of reports compared to the number of UT Alerts sent out this year shows a disturbing pattern.
This coupled with the indisputable fact that UTPD should have informed students immediately of this most recent vandalism and has yet to make mention of it continues to raise concerns.
Knowing the state of parking garages at UT and the daily issues students face parking within them, we find that we can no longer turn a blind eye to safety on campus.
UT students deserve to be secure, and staying informed is a key aspect of that security. We need to do better for the UT community before a true tragedy occurs and someone gets hurt.
It really is only a matter of time.
This article was edited to eliminate "with no suspects and probably no footage to go off of," from the sentence that now reads "How does vandalism with a BB gun, affecting seven people not something that poses an immediate danger to the UT community?" Due to the recent apprehension of four suspects in this matter.