May 23, 2024

Safety Services is currently working on new measures to increase their presence on campus and at campus housing away from main campus, and to use social media to better communicate Safety Service resources to students, said John Freese, director of Safety Services.

Recent instances of crime at student housing locations away from main campus prompted some of these new changes. Safety Services notified the California Baptist University community on Dec. 26 of a burglary that occurred in the College Park housing during winter break. The burglary involved trespassing onto the College Park property through a hole cut in the fence and break-ins at two apartments, according to the email sent out by Freese in response to the incident.

In the wake of the College Park burglaries, Freese said Safety Services is working with the Riverside Police Department to investigate the crimes. Safety Services is also working toward better security specifically at College Park, partnering with CBU Facilities to enhance safety at the apartment complex through improvements to the perimeter and fencing. Freese said that he is also working toward increasing Safety Services staff to make it possible for a more consistent presence at student housing away from main campus.

These apartment burglaries came only a few weeks after three vehicle burglaries occurred on Dec. 3 at Magnolia Crossing, another student housing property away from main campus. Zerenity Lopez, sophomore public relations major, owns one of the cars that was burglarized in the Magnolia Crossing parking lot.

“It was very shocking,” Lopez said. “I did not expect to find my car broken into, especially in a gated living area where Safety Services are supposed to be patrolling throughout the night. Luckily I did not have any valuables in my car and only a couple of things were stolen that did have much monetary or sentimental value. Either way, it felt like a violation.”

These burglaries come at the end of a fall semester during which several instances of crime occurred at CBU, including two situations in which a man entering the women’s restroom on the Health Science Campus and an assault on a student in the Village Apartments in September. Freese said this uptick in crime on campus reflects the crime hikes witnessed beyond campus.

“CBU is in a busy metropolitan city and there has been an increase in crime in our area and across the country over the last several years,” Freese said.

“The reasons for these crime increases are complex and are being studied by criminal justice researchers. More time is needed to analyze and identify causes, but they may be contributed to a combination of pandemic related issues and criminal justice reforms that have led to a reduction in criminal prosecutions and reduced police staffing levels.”

As a resident of Magnolia Crossing, Lopez said she notices increased security provided by Safety Services, but she still has concerns about some of the features of the complex.

“I feel like Magnolia Crossing has a little more added security than campus, just because I always see a Safety Services vehicle and we also have a gate activated by our IDs,” Lopez said.

Safety Services encourages students to play an active role in maintaining a safe environment and encourages students to take steps to protect themselves, as well, such as being aware of surroundings and walking in groups.

Bailey Berzansky, sophomore accounting major, lives in housing on CBU’s main campus at The Point. She feels that she has gained more awareness of how to stay safe, in part due to the Safety Services alert system. To stay safe, she tries to minimize walking alone on campus late at night and carries pepper spray.

“I think I feel pretty safe on campus,” Berzansky said. “Some safety issues did come up on campus, but I think I’m more aware of safety now and precautions I can take.”

Freese said active participation and rapid reporting of crime or suspicious activity from the CBU community can also help.

“I consider every student to be a member of the Safety Services team as the safety of our campus is a shared responsibility,” Freese said. “We ask all students that if they ‘see something, say something.’ Together, we can be successful in preventing crime by being community partners and quickly reporting issues of concern.”

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