Students voice concern over off-campus safety

Due to the recent spike in crime in the Home Park area, many students are concerned that if they move off campus simply to cut costs, they will incur another expense in risking their safety.

To address concerns about crime in and around campus, students met in a town hall style meeting Wednesday in the Student Center with representatives from the Atlanta Police Department (APD), the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD), Atlanta City Council and the Institute’s Office of the President.

The representatives emphasized the importance of working together to create a safe environment for everyone and that the situation is very important to everyone present.

“I am [scared to walk home] now, actually. After the Hampton Street thing I ride my bike now,” said Home Park resident Chet Sanders, fifth-year EE, in reference to the armed robbery that took place June 23.

Officers at the meeting stressed that the reason Tech students were victims of crime in Home Park had more to do with the time they were out on the streets of Home Park.

The robberies generally occur between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., and officers assured that in any area of Midtown it would not be wise to walk alone or in pairs during those hours.

The officers strongly recommended that students wishing to walk to campus at night should take the Stingerette, because many of the robberies occur while the victim is on foot and the thieves are in a car.

“Our students are targeted because they are out. But they’re not targeted [because they’re Tech students], that’s just not true,” said Chief Melissa Crocker of GTPD.

Students and Home Park residents expressed concern that the inability to walk to and from campus at all hours is a major drawback for a community that is known for being so pedestrian friendly to students.

In response to students’ need to travel during these hours, the Institute now offers Stingerette services in Home Park for the summer. By the fall, SGA hopes to secure a flat rate for students traveling to Home Park by taxi.

“Twelve robberies involving Tech students since February is twelve too many,” said Jim Fetig, associate vice president of Marketing and Communication for the Institute, “but we realize that the situation [in Home Park] has changed, and it’s going to take the cooperation of the neighborhood.”

Representation from the Home Park Community Improvement Association was also present at the meeting.

The group is interested in enlisting the help of Tech students who live in the area to help form a neighborhood watch group that can report any suspicious activity.

The officers agreed that one of the strongest defenses the Home Park community has lies in creating a strong support system that is proactive and reports any suspicious activity.

“Get to know your community. From a policing standpoint, we depend on you guys just as much as you depend on us. If all of you know your community to [the point] where you know who’s coming in and out of your community and can give us the information when someone is suspicious, it goes a lot further [than when something has already happened],” said Crime Prevention Officer Ian Mayberry of GTPD.

Officer Mayberry also added that if anyone sees what he or she believes is suspicious activity, they should call 911 immediately.