Police recently arrested two suspects who had been previously convicted of crimes on Tech’s campus. Both arrests came as a result of tips given to officers by students.
The first arrest occured on Friday, Feb. 3, when a Tech police officer responded to student report of a suspicious person. The officer identified the suspect as Tony Jackson, who had been released from prison four days prior for thefts committed at Tech. Jackson was found with a stolen laptop and was then arrested.
The second arrest occurred on Sunday, Feb 5. Four students reported stolen items from an unattended room in the Student Center. Police were able to locate the suspect, who was identified as Shawn Harris, by using a stolen phone’s GPS. Police arrested Harris after a short chase.
The police department attributes these arrests in large part to its recent “See Something? Say Something” campaign aimed at increasing student awareness in the efforts to reduce spiking campus crime.
“We want the entire community to know that the campaign truly works and to continue to always be aware of their surroundings,” said Alex Gutierrez, Crime Prevention Officer for the Tech Police Department.
Police say that the campaign has the potential to identify repeat offenders, as they are statistically more likely to be reported by students and other members of the Tech community. Repeat offenders represent a significant percentage of campus crime, according to GTPD. Gutierrez pointed to a recent example involving bicycle theft, where thefts decreased after a repeat offender was arrested.
“When the repeat offender was released from jail we saw the rise of stolen bicycles [once again],” said Gutierrez.
Gutierrez said that certain offenders have favorite crimes — by committing them often, they make a noticeable spike in the reports of those crimes. In this way, the police department is able to guess when a repeat offender is at large and respond accordingly.
While these two arrests were made quickly, repeat offenders oftentimes require extensive investigations in order to be identified, arrested, and prosecuted.
The Tech Police Department recently collaborated with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to capture another repeat offender, Curtis Henry. Blood was found at the scene of a car robbery and allowed the police coalition to incriminate Henry using forensic analysis.
Other programs initiated or augmented for the campaign against campus crime include a K9 unit, a new mounted patrol, and a more mobile officer force.
These initiatives are also designed to be useful in combating repeat offenses by widening the scope of direct observation and making officers more able to quickly respond to tips by the community regarding suspicious activity.
The Tech Police Department has successfully closed six such investigative cases in the past six months involving repeat offenders using these methods and the help of the “See Something? Say Something” campaign.