UMPD sees increase in escort requests

By Chance Viles

Stephen Treat/Collegian File Photo
Stephen Treat/Collegian File Photo

The University of Massachusetts Police Department has seen an increase in the number of students requesting escorts this semester after the robbery of a female student on North Pleasant Street last month, according to UMPD Deputy Chief Ian Cyr.

This semester, the service has been utilized 21 times, a significant increase from fall 2013, when the service was used on only two occasions.

UMPD, in conjunction with Residence Hall Security and the Cadet Program, offers escorts to students who do not feel safe walking alone at night. These escorts are normally provided by RHS, although UMPD will step in if they are busy at the time of the call.

RHS will transport the students in a shuttle and a police cadet will walk with them until they reach their destination.

“The positive aspect is that (the escorts) exist in general … if people feel unsafe walking there is a remedy to that,” Cyr said.

The escort service has been around for over 20 years. Escorts are offered nightly from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. and each request is logged by radio to make sure that the students have arrived safely to their destination.

Despite the recent incident, Cyr said, “Surveys among students show students do feel safe walking on campus.”

UMPD also conducts an annual check to make sure that campus is properly lit at night. According to Cyr, the amount of lighting and frequent traffic around campus is generally the reason why students say they feel safe.

The service is primarily used on weekdays, and calls are less frequent on the weekends. Cyr cited the rise in the amount of people walking in groups, as well as cell phones, as the reasons why there isn’t a larger demand for escorts.

Those in need of an escort can call 413-545-2123.

Chance Viles can be reached at [email protected]