Campus News

Too reactive, not proactive: Students share policing, safety concerns

UHPD’s 24/7 presence hasn’t helped all students feel safe, some say. | Ashton Clay Yeaman/The Cougar

The University of Houston Police Department has long been a feature on campus, with the main goal of keeping the UH community safe. With their 24/7 presence, some students have noted UHPD’s lack of proactiveness and unnecessary weapon use.

On Tuesday, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement performed an assessment on UHPD and welcomed comments from the public, leading students to express their opinions on Reddit. 

The 2024 operating budget for the UH system has allocated around $11 million for police officers and police administration but despite this, some students have spoke out about what they view as the department’s poor management.

“This isn’t the safest campus ever but in terms of policing, I think the current reactive methods where they respond to things as they happen as opposed to proactive is better for avoiding going overkill,” said biomedical engineering senior Jasmine Dhaliwal.

Dhaliwal also said while campus “usually feels safe,” students constantly need to be watching their belongings and that ideally, UHPD wouldn’t feel the need to carry guns.

“At the same time you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight,” Dhaliwal said. “I think police tend to be a bit overly reactive, especially when it comes to their own sense of safety and feeling the need to pull a weapon to control the situation rather than using other methods.

Geosciences senior and Bayou Oaks resident Jose Garcia has had few run-ins with UHPD, except on the rare occasions they get called to Bayou Oaks due to some of the fraternities.

“They seem to have a sort of leniency towards the frats,” Garcia said. ”I’ve observed frats destroy property around Bayou and it’s been let go or swept under the rug. As for safety on campus, I would hope they prioritize it, but they are doing the bare minimum in my view.”

Garcia believes that all UHPD officers shouldn’t be armed and is concerned about having armed officers around students all of the time.

“Not everyone who passes a test should be armed. Perhaps having a specific group of officers that handle certain calls where a firearm may be needed would be preferable, it is their job to de-escalate situations,” Garcia said. 

The recent election of student body president-elect Diego Arriaga brings weight to the For All Cougars party’s position on campus police. They argue that more patrolling and more proactive policing is the solution. 

“We will work with our campus police department to create a more active campus patrolling system to keep students safe,” For All Cougars said in an Instagram post. “Additionally, we will work with the City of Houston District D office to create a campus outskirts patrolling system so students are protected on the immediate outskirts of UH.”

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