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Campus safety questioned

UPD Chief Mark Foxworth wishes a wall could surround UNF but admitted the idea is impractical, he said.

Recent reports of violent crimes on campus, including a report of sexual battery Oct. 3 in Osprey Cove, raised concerns about the outside criminal element creeping in.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement statistics show Duval County has the highest overall crime rate and is among the top 10 counties with the most incidents in all of the violent crime categories: aggravated assault, forcible sex offenses, murder and robbery.

However, incidents reported to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office within 3 miles of UNF between January 2007 and November 2008 show the university is in one of the safer areas in Duval County when it comes to violent crime.

Roughly 9 percent of incidents in the immediate area were violent crimes, and numbers for 2007 from the FDLE reveal almost 15 percent of the crimes in the county were violent. Only 1.6 percent of all on-campus crimes were violent, according to UPD’s crime statistics report for 2007. Foxworth attributes the campus’ lower numbers of violent crime to a strong community and support system.

“I think community involvement is the big key because not a day goes by that somebody in our community doesn’t call us and express a concern for something,” he said.

But some members of the UNF community aren’t concerned with on-campus crime at all.

Alvaro Salazar, a senior criminal justice major, said he’s more worried about crime when he’s off campus.

“I don’t even think about [violent crime] when I’m on campus,” he said.

The community should keep its guard up as a preventative measure, Foxworth said.

“I think sometimes our students become complacent and trusting,” he said.

Foxworth advised students living on campus to act as they would in an off-campus apartment. Parents of potential UNF students should remind them of basic personal security measures, such as not opening the door to strangers and telling someone where they’re going and when they should be back, Foxworth said.

“I know it sounds very elementary, but I think a lot of times … people just feel very, very safe and let their guard down,” he said.

If someone does become a victim, he or she is encouraged to file a report immediately with UPD to help investigators and the victim, Foxworth said.

Escorts are provided by university police for anyone on campus by calling 620-2800.

The Women’s Center has a 24-hour crisis hotline that can be reached at 620-1010. And any member of the UNF community can get a list of private self-defense instructors from the center.

E-mail Nicole Hernandez at [email protected].

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