UHPD reacts swiftly and effectively

File photo / The Daily Cougar

File photo / The Daily Cougar

Monday, students were under threat from another robbery. While some students were busy studying for midterms a few floors above, another thief chose UH as his hunting ground. While the victims of the previous robberies were students, the most recent target was the C-Store at Calhoun Lofts.

All students heard Monday was speculation about how this was no longer a safe campus, how the Third Ward was leaking into our grounds and how some now fear walking on campus at night. Their fears are justified. According to campus crime reports, this is one in a long line of armed robberies in a few weeks.

Fortunately, UH woke up to good news Tuesday: The suspect, like those of the previous robberies, was now in police custody. Students breathed a sigh of relief that the UH Department of Public Safety had such a swift response, and any indication of lingering fear was absent.

The alternation between terror and relief has to change. For whatever reason, local criminals have chosen our university to be their punching bag. Crime isn’t uncommon here, but in the past it has mostly been limited to missing gym bags at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center or unattended laptops suddenly sprouting legs and running away. But this year, we’ve been plagued by armed gunmen, get-away drivers and paralyzing fear.

However, quick police responses should alleviate most of the concern. Thanks to UH President Renu Khator’s quick response to the robberies, we have a stronger police force and a better UHDPS investigative component. While there is no evident connection between the cases, the University’s campus protectors have managed to solve each.

It is not UHDPS’ fault that these crimes continue to happen. Students don’t want an officer on every campus corner. Police are reactionary, and unless the crime happens in their immediate view, they won’t arrive until the crime has already been committed.

The burden of these crimes falls on us. It is our job to aid the police by providing sufficient information to help their investigative efforts. Unlike what “CSI: Miami” might lead you to believe, the police can’t actually magnify a stray hair found at the crime scene and conjure the photo ID, social security number and address of the suspect. The inability of victims to identify license plates, though understandable, hinders investigation.

This is not to say Cougars should try to play the hero and involve themselves in a crime in progress, nor should they try to fight back if a robber has a gun pointed at them. Material things are not worth lives. This cannot be stressed enough.

Greater vigilance means reporting any suspicious activity immediately to authorities and walking in groups at night. Be aware of your surroundings, and stick to brightly lit areas wherever possible. If all else fails, know the locations of the emergency boxes spread around campus and have security escort you to your destination if you feel it’s unsafe.

Students do not need to be afraid. Crime is just terror’s little cousin — an immature, annoying brat that feeds on people’s emotions and on the fruits of their labor. It takes what it wants and seems random. Though crime cannot be prevented completely, students should sleep easier at night knowing that UHDPS is vigilantly patrolling our campus day and night to prevent crime and arrest those responsible.

If anyone should be afraid, it’s the criminals.

James Wang is a history sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].



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