BU Police Respond to Assaults, and to Critics
Chief Robbins: what police are doing, what you can do
Describing the recent spate of assaults on or near the Charles River Campus as their highest priority, the BU Police are beefing up patrols, working closely with Brookline Police, and stressing some safety tips to the community.
In the latest incident, a research assistant from the BU Medical Campus was stabbed and robbed of an iPad Tuesday evening only a few blocks from the Charles River Campus. He was treated at a local hospital and released. Just under two weeks ago, three BU students were robbed on or near campus in three separate weekend incidents over three hours.
Since last fall, there have been 17 assaults reported to the BU Police, the same number reported for the entire 2011–2012 academic year. Of those, four were domestic incidents, and four other suspects have been arrested, and court summonses have been issued.
In response to the jump in street crime, BU Police have put more cars and more officers on the streets, but the robberies continue, and concern is growing. A BU Today story about the most recent incident quickly drew more than 100 comments from readers, many complaining of the failure of police efforts to stem the violence.
In a letter to the BU community, President Robert A. Brown reported that he met yesterday morning with BU Police Chief Thomas Robbins to discuss the next steps, based on what they are learning from the ongoing investigations. “Clearly,” Brown wrote, “recent experience suggests that we must—working with public officials—reevaluate current procedures and seek new approaches.”
What exactly are the police doing? What can the rest of us do? BU Today put those questions and others to Robbins.
BU Today: What are the BU and Brookline police departments doing to make the streets safer?
Thomas Robbins: We are assigning our regular patrol officers on every shift to provide expanded patrol coverage to the North Brookline area along with Brookline Police. We have also assigned officers to be solely focused on the area. We are working very closely with the Brookline Police, and both departments are stepping up patrols. Last semester, when our detectives worked together, we made arrests in two cases of armed robbery, and we continue to work very well together. The collaboration is excellent.
How long will the added patrols remain on the streets?
For the foreseeable future. We are putting more police in the area of the crimes. We are increasing the visibility of police, with more uniformed officers and more marked police cars. Brookline is also adding patrols, and they will be both uniformed and plainclothes.
What can you say to people who think that you aren’t doing enough?
These assaults are our highest priority, bar none. They command attention at the top of the police department and the top of the University. I’ve been here six years, and this kind of activity is very unusual in the area of North Brookline. Last semester and this semester, we have seen this pop up, and it’s something that we are prepared for. We are gathering statistics and focusing resources in hot spots, both with investigation and protective patrol measures. We are addressing this. We understand how important it is to provide security for this community. People should know that we really care about these incidents.
What about members of the community? What can they do?
They can do a few things. If you are walking someplace, make sure you are in a group, and as much as you can, walk in well-lighted areas. Do not display objects that you know are targets for thieves. Don’t hold your iPhone in your hand and don’t walk with earbuds in. There are two reasons for not wearing your earbuds. One, thieves will see that you have earbuds, and they may decide to take them, and two, you’ll be distracted from your environment. You have to pay attention to your surroundings at all times.
What kinds of things should people pay attention to?
Most students are familiar with the area, and they can tell when someone looks like they don’t belong. If you see anyone suspicious, the best thing to do is call the Brookline Police or the BU Police, and we will immediately send an officer to have a conversation and find out who that person is.
What if someone is the victim of a robbery? What should they do?
If you are a victim, or about to become a victim, remember that most thieves are focused on one thing: getting the items they want and getting out of there. You should remember that what they want is just property. It can be replaced. Do not try to resist. Don’t do anything that would cause them to use force to take something that you could give them.
Is there anything they can do other than hand over their iPhone or other belongings?
Yes. The most helpful thing you can do is to be a good witness. You can try to get a good look at the suspect. Look for earrings or tattoos or other identifying features that can help police find that person. Get the very best description you can.88 Comments