Campus, local police utilize numerous methods to deter crime

Trey Crumbie

About 4,660 students live on campus according to a document provided by Housing and Residence Life. The WKU Police Department has several resources at their disposal to inform students if crime occurs on or near campus.

Messages through email, text, television and social media are some of the options at WKUPD’s disposal.

Capt. Dominic Ossello of WKUPD said the decision to send out warnings are taken on a case-by-case basis.

“We generally base it on the risk to students,” Ossello said. “If it’s an armed robbery, if there’s a weapon involved, things like that, to where it’s a threat to our student community, then we send out a text alert.”

Several supervisors of WKUPD have the authority to send out messages to students about potential dangers, as well as Bob Skipper, director of media relations, and the department of Environmental Health and Safety.

“There’s several people, several options,” Ossello said.

Ossello said there are no set location boundaries that factor into whether or not to inform students about a crime. Each crime is analyzed on a case-by-case basis and that choosing not to inform students based on the distance away from campus would put them at risk, Ossello said.

“We try not to do hard borders,” he said. “Obviously if something occurs on campus, we’re going to send something out. That is a direct threat to campus. But we don’t have a one or two blocks out type radius.”

The effort to inform students about potentially dangerous situations does not all fall on WKUPD’s shoulders. The police department also cooperates with Bowling Green Police Department dispatch centers.

“If there is a call that is close to campus, even though it is a BGPD case and that it’s something they’re going to investigate, we will often send an officer too, to give them some help or to assist in any way we can. And that also allows us to determine if there is a threat towards campus itself,” Ossello said.

On Feb. 11, shots were fired at the Campus Edge Apartments on 320 Old Morgantown Road. Although no one was shot, the apartments are located within walking distance of the Registry Apartments, a place where many students live. No warnings or notifications about the fired shots were given.

Ossello said the description of the initial situation had changed, so there was no information to give students. The threat was also going away from campus. 

“The determination was made that since there was no threat towards campus directly, that one [a warning] was not needed.”

Patrolling WKU property, such as the main campus, South Campus and the WKU Farm, is also a method WKUPD utilizes to help keep students safe. WKUPD patrols the campus in their cars 24/7 and are encouraged to interact with students.

Ossello said that off-campus housing, such as The Registry apartments or Campus Evolution Villages, that isn’t owned by WKU isn’t patrolled by WKUPD, but is usually handled by the Bowling Green Police Department instead.

“Since it’s not owned by the university, it’s not an option for us to patrol them,” he said. “It’s not a Western property. So although there are students there, there’s no ability or reason for us to patrol them beyond what’s requested.”

Ronnie Ward, public information officer for BGPD, said the city police will randomly and regularly drive through apartment complexes in order to deter crime.

Ward said apartment complexes are treated equally as far as patrols go, but owners or managers of the property can call the police if they suspect a problem might occur.

“We don’t want to be in the middle of people’s affairs, but we do want to be close by if they call us and they have a problem,” he said.