Crime report comments on student safety: Deputy chief speaks out on lower crime rates

Al Gentile
Connector Editor

Deputy Chief Ron Dickerson, head of the UMass Lowell Police Department, released to The Connector the crime analysis report for the year 2013, which shows all reported cases of crime against students.

Looking over the results compared to last year across the categories of motor vehicle theft, burglary, aggravated assault, robbery and sex offenses, there has been a 33 percent decrease in the number of reported occurrences from 2012.

Dickerson attributes this decrease to many factors. “It’s never one thing that affects crime rates,” he said.

According to Dickerson, there have been many improvements in the past year with regards to security technology, staffing and initiatives, both unilaterally and in conjunction with the Lowell Municipal Police Department.

At a base level, Chancellor Marty Meehan has allocated increased funding for the staffing of the UMLPD to allow for four additional officers available for patrols. With the additional staffing, Dickerson has been able to commit two officers to community engagement full time. “It pays dividends,” he said.

A major factor, says Dickerson, is the increase in funding for security technology. This comes in the form of more surveillance cameras and the number of emergency “blue phones” that students can use to quickly call in suspicious activity or direct threats to their safety.

Technology improvements prove invaluable, according to Dickerson, when actually deterring crime. “I think it does deter crime to have these cameras visible,” he said.

Along with their own independent measures, the UMLPD has teamed up with the Lowell Police Department to put two extra officers on patrol Thursday through Saturday nights – a time when students are typically out walking the streets either between campus facilities or on their way downtown.

“This is an extra patrol that we’re doing,” Dickerson said.

These officers patrol the different neighborhoods around campus, focusing on the areas around University Crossing, East Campus and North Campus.

Dickerson has also committed himself to attending the bi-weekly CommSat meetings held by the Lowell Police Department. “I think knowing the crime patterns in the city help us put more attention to those areas.”

Dickerson sees the trend for the 2014 crime analysis results positively. As of Wednesday Sept. 10, there has been only one reported robbery for the year 2014, thus far, according to Dickerson.

Looking at the results more closely, burglaries have taken the deepest plunge, from 28 reported cases in 2012 to only six in 2013. Dickerson considers getting the message out to students as a major factor in that decrease.

A common misconception among students is regarding the credentials of the UMass Lowell Police Force, for which Dickerson had much to say.

Much of the force, Dickerson says, has over twenty years of experience, and all officers go through the exact same training as regular municipal officers. Much of that experience includes working in municipal districts, and every officer is sworn in by the Middlesex County Police Department

With increased funding, community initiatives and the increased use of security technology, the UMass Lowell Police Department is showing the results of their efforts in numbers. With the year coming to a close in the next three months, the outlook is positive for an even further decrease in reported cases on campus.

Dickerson says many are to thank for this. “From the chancellor down they show a commitment to continue that [trend],” he said.

On top of it all, Dickerson sees transparency as a hallmark of good crime control. “All our guys are very approachable,” he said. “We know what our commitment is.”

A major factor, says Dickerson, is the increase in funding for security technology. This comes in the form of more surveillance cameras and the number of emergency “blue phones” that students can use to quickly call in suspicious activity or direct threats to their safety.

Technology improvements prove invaluable, according to Dickerson, when actually deterring crime. “I think it does deter crime to have these cameras visible,” he said.

Along with their own independent measures, the UMLPD has teamed up with the Lowell Police Department to put two extra officers on patrol Thursday through Saturday nights – a time when students are typically out walking the streets either between campus facilities or on their way downtown.

“This is an extra patrol that we’re doing,” Dickerson said.

These officers patrol the different neighborhoods around campus, focusing on the areas around University Crossing, East Campus and North Campus.

Dickerson has also committed himself to attending the bi-weekly CompStat meetings held by the Lowell Police Department. “I think knowing the crime patterns in the city help us put more attention to those areas.”

Dickerson sees the trend for the 2014 crime analysis results positively. As of Wednesday Sept. 10, there has been only one reported robbery for the year 2014, thus far, according to Dickerson.

Looking at the results more closely, burglaries have taken the deepest plunge, from 28 reported cases in 2012 to only six in 2013. Dickerson considers getting the message out to students as a major factor in that decrease.

A common misconception among students is regarding the credentials of the UMass Lowell Police Force, for which Dickerson had much to say.

Much of the force, Dickerson says, has over twenty years of experience, and all officers go through the exact same training as regular municipal officers. Much of that experience includes working in municipal districts, and every officer is sworn in by the Middlesex County Police Department.

With increased funding, community initiatives and the increased use of security technology, the UMass Lowell Police Department is showing the results of their efforts in numbers. With the year coming to a close in the next three months, the outlook is positive for an even further decrease in reported cases on campus.

Dickerson says many are to thank for this. “From the chancellor down they show a commitment to continue that [trend],” he said.

On top of it all, Dickerson sees transparency as a hallmark of good crime control. “All our guys are very approachable,” he said. “We know what our commitment is.”

Contact the author for questions or comments at alexander_gentile@student.uml.edu.

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