My job is to do all I can to keep this campus and every member of the Trinity community safe. That’s a responsibility I take very seriously, and it’s work that I do in partnership with all of you, with local law enforcement, area residents and organizations, and, of course, my team in the Department of Campus Safety and our contractor, Securitas.
It was particularly distressing when we experienced two significant incidents on campus recently, a robbery on Sept. 12 and a burglary on Sept. 17. Today, I write to you to provide you with updates and information on both of those cases and to reiterate our dedication to keeping Trinity a safe place in which to learn, live, and work.
First, updates on the cases. In the robbery, two of the three individuals involved were apprehended immediately, while the third is still being sought. The sole offender in the campus burglary was identified the same day as the incident through the cooperative efforts of Campus Safety and the Hartford Police Department (HPD). The police are moving forward with their work to hold those involved in both incidents accountable. While it was unsettling to have two such incidents occur on campus in less than a week’s time, I ask that you consider these incidents in the broader context of an entire calendar year. In fact, over the last several years, Hartford has experienced a decrease in crime in virtually every recorded category. Further, the events that occurred on our campus occur in similar frequency at other colleges and universities. That said, we should not ignore the fact that these occurrences were highly concerning, and appropriate strategies should be implemented to ensure to the best of our abilities that they do not recur.
Based upon my decades of experience in law enforcement at the Hartford Police Department, I have learned that addressing criminal activity is not only challenging, but can be viewed typically as a moving target. Often when criminal activity is addressed in one area, it can simply move to another. The occurrence and selection of our campus as the scene of these recent incidents, then, may have been influenced by factors well beyond our boundaries.
Nonetheless, I have met with administrators of the college and members of my department’s leadership team to strategize our current and future deployment of personnel. We have historically worked with the HPD to develop strategies based on observed crime patterns or in conjunction with large community events such as the Hartford Marathon, Pope Park Festival, and various parades, to mention a few.
We maintain frequent communication with HPD’s Community Service Officers who are assigned to the south end of Hartford. We have maintained the presence of a Hartford Police officer on our campus each weekend to be a visible presence on campus and to accelerate any necessary police response. These efforts will continue. In addition, we are part of the Southside Institution Neighborhood Alliance (SINA) safety committee that works with citizens and businesses to stabilize and improve the Frog Hollow neighborhood.
Internally, we have shifted personnel to areas that we believe warrant increased coverage given recent salient events. Further, I encourage you to use Trinity’s shuttles and Campus Safety’s walking escorts after dark. The department operates the off-campus shuttle 7 days a week from 5:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. and contracts with Dattco bus services to provide the on-campus shuttle Sunday through Thursday from 6:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 8:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m.
Finally, we need all community members to use best practices for safety, for your own sake and that of the whole campus. Closing exterior doors behind you, closing and locking windows and safety screens, not propping doors – no matter how inconvenient, ensuring that your personal effects remain secured and out of sight, and being aware of your surroundings are a few of the strategies I recommend. As we work cooperatively to safeguard our community, I assure you that the Campus Safety Department will continue to hear your concerns, welcome your suggestions, and remain nimble and proactive in our deployment and responsiveness to the security needs of the college.
-Director of Campus Safety Brian Heavren