Recent on-campus robbery prompts change

Chance Swaim

Wichita State University Police are working toward increasing enforcement during late hours in the wake of two recent nighttime robberies in parking lots near 21st and Hillside.

A new focus will put officers on interior foot patrol, said Sara Morris, chief of University Police.

“These officers will be patrolling on foot,” she said, “interacting with people on campus, finding out people’s fears and trying to come up with solutions from the community.”

The decision came the morning after a robbery on campus Monday night. According to a crime alert sent to students, faculty and staff via email, a man armed with a knife robbed a 19-year-old student on the outskirts of campus.

Around 9:40 p.m. Monday, a black man described as tall, slender and in his mid-20s approached the female student in Lot 1N, which is adjacent to Hillside and south of 21st,wielding a large knife, the crime alert said.

The student gave the man her purse and he fled on foot. The student went to Shocker Hall before reporting the crime, the alert said. The man was wearing a black or gray hoodie with the hood covering his face.

The student was not injured and the purse has not been recovered.

Morris said she is open to new ways of solving problems and that the officers on foot will provide her with an ear to the public.

“Talk to the officers,” suggested Lou Heldman, vice president of Strategic Communications at WSU. “They want to hear from you and they want to protect you.”

“I don’t check social media sites like Facebook, so this will be a way for me to know what the community wants, what students are thinking,” Morris said.

Morris said the strategy of adding police on foot has been in the planning stages for quite some time, but it has been a manpower issue. She’s now devised a plan implementing swing shifts involving officers on second- and third-shifts to increase UPD’s nighttime presence as evening classes let out.

With the increase in patrols, Morris said she wants to encourage students to take more personal responsibility for their safety.

“Per square mile, we have more officers than the Wichita Police,” she said. “But we can’t be everywhere all the time.”

If you have information that may help solve this crime, contact the UPD Detective Section at 978-3450.

“We hope you’re never a victim of crime,” Heldman said. “But if you are, report it immediately and we’ll be more likely to catch the bad guy, and it will help the alert get out faster to keep others safe as well.”