UT Police testing Text-to-911 system

UT police urge students to report crime

AUSTIN - After the murder of a University of Texas freshman in April, the UT Police Department began working with Austin police and the City of Austin to implement a "Text-to-911" concept.

Even months after Haruka Weiser's was killed, UT students believe the homeless population around campus is still an issue. A number of female students told KVUE News there are times where they just don’t feel safe walking on campus, even during the daytime.

“I was actually chased in the middle of the day, going to class, a homeless person just shot up, and I was walking on the drag, just started chasing me, and I had to duck into CVS to get away from it,” said student Cassandra Lance.

In cases like Lance, students don't always report incidents to police. They go unreported instead, and the incidents are posted on social media or talked about in texts between friends and family.

“I’ve definitely seen it on Facebook about people who are doing like obscene things, especially to girls on campus,” said student Aditya Ali.

This might be why while students see crime increasing, police said it is not shown in their statistics.

Total number of crimes reported on UT-Austin Campus:

  • In 2012 – 48 crimes
  • In 2013 – 46 crimes
  • In 2014 – 47 crimes
  • In 2015 – 36 crimes

Police stressed the importance of reporting crimes, so they can properly investigate the case.

“If you see an incident and you walk past it, you don’t contact the police, essentially, you’re accepting that type of behavior,” said UT Assistant Police Chief Peter Scheets.

Meanwhile, police said they are taking extra steps to keep students safe.

“As a patrol officer, by making these contacts, being for visible, and being more approachable,” said UTPD Officer Nicholas Cotham.

UT Police said all of their officers are trained to ride bicycles to make them more approachable. The Text-to-911 concept is being tested, and authorities hope to roll out the system soon.

“We’re trying to stay current and connect to that trend,” said Scheets.

It’s an idea that most students find favorable.

“You may be in a compromising situation, to where you can necessarily take out your phone and call, and just the convenience of texting, rather than just calling,” said Lance.

"I think texting makes it slightly less personal, easier for people to report,” said Ali.

KVUE News only found one student, who would rather report a crime the traditional way.

“Me personally, I’d rather call 911, it’s going to be faster than texting and let you know the person on the other end is going to pick it up,” said UT student Kendall Malcolm.

Police are in the midst of implementing their “Be Safe” program this semester, which encourages students to take steps to prevent being victims, such as walking with a partner at night, being aware of your surroundings and promptly reporting crimes to police.

GO HERE to learn more about Text-to-911 from the Federal Communications Commission.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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