To the UC Santa Cruz Community,

I realize that the recent violent crimes, both on and off the campus, have increased anxiety within our community over the past couple of weeks. These crimes are extremely troubling, and I want to assure you that the police are doing everything we can to solve these crimes and keep you safe.

The purpose of this communication is to provide you with additional information about the investigation and actions that are being undertaken to enhance support and safety for the community.

Currently, we are working closely with the City of Santa Cruz Police Department to follow up on investigative leads, provide extra patrols, keep the community informed of updates, and address community concerns.  Due to the recent crimes in the local off-campus community, and because our students and staff live, work, and participate in the Santa Cruz community, it is critical that our efforts take into consideration campus safety as well as the safety of our local Santa Cruz community.  In fact, I will be attending a meeting this evening being organized by Santa Cruz Neighbors that will include Mayor Bryant and Chancellor Blumenthal as hosts. I anticipate that one of the important topics that will be discussed is that of crime in the local community and the call for enhanced safety throughout the city of Santa Cruz.

For the campus, there are several key events and advisories that I want to bring to your attention:

Campus Safety Forum.  The administration will host a campus safety forum on Wednesday, February 20, from 7:00 to 8:30 PM in Classroom Unit 2.  This forum is open to all members of the campus community, including all students, staff, and faculty. The purpose of the forum will be to provide updated information and to provide a space for questions and discussion about the recent crimes and ways to enhance the safety of our campus community.  This event will be videotaped for those who are unable to attend the forum and the video will be placed on the UCPD website by Friday, February 22.

Night Safety Escort Service.  I am working closely with UCSC's Community Safety Program (part of our Colleges, Housing, and Educational Services unit) to develop and introduce a night safety escort service between the hours of 8:00 PM and 2:45 AM.  This program will be offered as a pilot for the next several weeks and is intended to provide assistance for individuals who need support as they move about campus.   This is not intended to replace existing services such as the Metro and Campus Shuttles or to discourage students from walking in groups.  It will be a limited service for individuals who have no other option and need a safety escort. To request a safety escort, call the UC Santa Cruz Dispatch Center, CSO line at 831-459-2100.

Self-Defense Weapons. I have received several questions regarding the carrying of pepper spray and self-defense weapons such as Tasers. I must remind you that possession of taser-type devices is illegal on the campus.  There are some restrictions on the size of the containers (must be less than 2.5 oz), and they may only be used in self-defense situations. Those wishing to carry pepper spray should receive training before carrying the canisters.

Support Resources for Staff and Students.   During periods like this, we know that people can sometimes experience heightened feelings of anxiety or distress. Students can access support through Counseling and Psychological Services at the Student Health Center by calling 831-459-2628. Staff and faculty may access counseling support through the Employee Assistance Program by calling 866-808-6205.

Prevention and Education Programs.  A number of campus units are also beginning to discuss ways in which the campus can provide additional training for staff and students in the areas of personal self-defense, personal use of pepper spray, and personal safety.  Additional details for these programs will be published shortly.

CruzAlert.  Incidents like the one that occurred this past weekend give the campus an opportunity to assess the campus's emergency text and voicemail system. If you are signed up to receive alerts and didn't receive the most recent notification, please send an email message to alert@ucsc.edu. If you are not signed up to receive these messages, please take a few minutes to do so by going to http://cruzalert.ucsc.edu.  You may also just log into that site and verify that the system has your most current contact information.

Community Assistance.  Recent fliers have been distributed with descriptions of the suspects involved in these crimes.  It is imperative that we receive any information that you may have regarding these suspects (please see the description and police sketch of the suspect in Sunday's sexual assault and battery.) Without the community’s assistance, these crimes may go unsolved. You may report information about these crimes directly to the UC Santa Cruz Police Department or the City of Santa Cruz Police Department.

Report Suspicious Activity. As the additional “eyes and ears” of law enforcement, it is important for the community to report all suspicious activity immediately by dialing 911. Prompt and detailed reporting of suspicious activities can help prevent violent crimes. When providing these reports please include a brief description of the activity; date, time and location of the activity; physical identifiers of anyone you observed; description(s) of vehicles; and, any information about the direction of travel of people involved in suspicious activities

The UC Santa Cruz Police Department can also be reached at 831-459-2231. Reports may also be made ANONYMOUSLY to the UC Santa Cruz Police Department by calling 831-459-3TIP (459-3847) or online at http://police.ucsc.edu/report.

The City of Santa Cruz Police Department may also be reached at (831) 420-5820. ANONYMOUS information may be left on the City of Santa Cruz Police Department TIP LINE (831) 420-5995 or through their mobile iPhone and Android App.

Staying Safe.  Each of us shares in the responsibility for keeping our community safe. The Police Department cannot do it alone. Nonetheless, I encourage you to stay safe by using good judgment and safety sense at all times. It is imperative you remain aware of your surroundings and stay alert.  Use well lit roads and pathways and trust your instincts. If something does not feel right do not hesitate to call the police.  Remember, if you See Something, Say Something, Do Something!

Nader Oweis, Chief of Police
University of California, Santa Cruz