Volume 92, Issue 57

Friday, January 8, 1999

the roof is on fire


Advice going east

Fire sparks safety reminders

Ontario boosts research projects through matching grant

Bizarre tragedy hits Bishop's

Crime stepped back during patrol's 10 years


Caught on campus

Crime stepped back during patrol's 10 years

By Christina Vardanis
Gazette Staff

It was 1979. The night was cold and wet. For the last time, students, alone after a long night of studying, walked home checking their backs for the wrong side of the law.

This weekend marks the 10 year anniversary of Western Foot Patrol. With 700 to 1,000 volunteers at a time, it is the largest program of its kind in Canada.

The program separates the campus into four zones, each of which are patrolled by a pair of student volunteers. Armed with a two-way radio to contact the University Police Department, they act as escorts and a deterrent for campus crime.

Foot Patrol coordinator David Crombie said although many factors play a role, he believes Foot Patrol has made a significant difference in campus safety. He added its impact can be seen by the types of crime which have dropped since the organization's inauguration. "Rates of vandalism, stranger sex assault and theft from buildings all dropped sharply during the first three years of the program."

Crombie said volunteers go through training sessions which teach them proper radio techniques, how to handle emergency situations and how to be an effective patroller. Part of this training includes learning to retreat from situations which could be dangerous, he added.

"This is the safest defence possible," he said. "We train our patrollers to retreat, observe and relay."

Pete Hill, VP-campus issues for the University Students' Council, said Foot Patrol is fully supported by the USC, with regards to the contribution the organization makes to the campus community. "It's self-sustaining and self-operating and definitely used effectively," he said.

Tania Keefe, assistant coordinator of Foot Patrol and Western student, said she has seen just what a difference it can make. She recalled particular instances when Foot Patrol was able to intervene, such as when a drunken male was yelling death threats to a female student on the Concrete Beach and a severely intoxicated student was found on University College hill.

Const. Wendy McGowan of the UPD said she supports Foot Patrol's various functions and noted it is a valuable service. "If an individual has a fear, it's a resource we can recommend for them to use," she said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999