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See Something, Say Something campaign to be launched on campus

BY RACHEL GREEN | AUGUST 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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With the adoption of a new campaign, officials say, they hope to continue efforts to create a safer campus.

The University of Iowa has recently implemented the See Something, Say Something campaign on campus.

The program is offered nationally through the Department of Homeland Security and is used by many cities, universities, transportation systems, states, law enforcement, and sports leagues.

David Grady, the UI associate vice president and dean of student life, said the campaign is a good addition to campus.

“This campaign complements campus efforts to ensure the UI is a welcoming and safe community,” he said.

These efforts include Bystander Education through the Women’s Resource and Action Center, programming in the residence halls, the Red Watch Band Program through Student Health and Wellness, and various programs through the Department of Public Safety.

The See Something, Say Something program, originally used by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, teaches the public to focus on suspicious activities done by people, not on the subject’s ethnic background or the clothing they are wearing.

“It is difficult to quantify violence which has been prevented, but we have been able to, directly or indirectly, de-escalate countless cases,” said UI police Lt. Peter Berkson, a threat-assessment specialist and a manager of the threat-assessment team. “With this program, everyone will, hopefully, take a personal responsibility for the safety of themselves and others.”

Since its inception in 2010, many universities nationwide have used the program, including the University of Miami, Harvard University, the University of the Pacific, and the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Mike Belcher, the director of public safety for the University of the Pacific, in Stockton, California, said Stockton has had a notorious reputation for its crime, and officials want the campus to be safer.
This they can accomplish by using the See Something, Say Something campaign, he said.

“I have been a police officer for over 36 years, and I always found it concerning when witnesses to a crime thought the individual was acting suspicious but decided not to call in fear of being wrong,” Belcher said. “We want to teach our students not to be paranoid of their surroundings but that by being more aware, they can stay safe.”

Berkson said the UI has spent no money on the campaign and does not expect to until it becomes more immersed on campus.

“There are so many cases on the low end of the violence continuum [at the UI],” said Jane Caton, a manager on the UI threat assessment team. “People reporting low-level threats is what keeps us able to prevent larger ones.”

The See Something, Say Something campaign reminds people to not be under the influence of the Bystander Effect — not taking action while in a large group because no one else is taking action.
It also attempts to engage the public in identifying and reporting suspicious individuals.

“There have been no recent events that prompted us to join the campaign,” Berkson said. “But over the years, we have seen that people reporting concerns is what prevents major events on campus.”


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