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Thursday, May 23, 2024

They're everywhere: cruising at 20 mph down Gale Lemerand Drive, loitering outside your dormitory; they're even eating a quesadilla next to you at Moe's.

Gainesville Police Department Spokesman Lt. Keith Kameg said more officers are sent out to patrol the city at the beginning of the fall semester because of the influx of students both new and old.

"It's not that students cause more of a problem, it's just a direct relationship: more students, more police," Kameg said.

Students aren't usually the main source of crime in Gainesville, Kameg said. They fall victim to crime.

"They cause little to no issues with the exception of, unfortunately, they are usually the ones who get victimized," he said.

"When people come to school, they're more concerned with classes, a party or the big game, and crime prevention falls down the list. It's our job to push it up a bit."

To bring personal safety to the forefront of students' minds, GPD focuses on making safety information accessible during the time that students are settling into their collegiate lives, Kameg said.

"We do a lot more interviews and do a great deal more media work," he said. "We have so many new people coming in to town, we give more safety information."

University Police Department Spokesman Capt. Jeff Holcomb said that at the beginning of school, he gets many calls from concerned parents asking what students can do to protect themselves from falling victims to a crime.

He said at home, parents play a vital role in the safety of their children.

"Now they're not here," he said. "It's up to the individual to ensure safety."

Holcomb advocated two UPD programs that help to ensure student safety in a Wednesday interview.

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Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol provides nightly escorts anywhere on campus from 6:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., nightly.

Holcomb said that SNAP has already been in huge demand and hopes that it keeps being utilized.

"We encourage students to continue using that program," he said.

Holcomb also recommends the Rape Aggression Defense Class, a free 12-hour self-defense class for women that takes place over three consecutive days.

On the third day, students can practice their self-defense techniques on a heavily padded police officer.

Capt. Holcomb said there are other perks to the course besides being equipped with life-saving information.

"You can take out aggression in a legal way on a law enforcement officer," he said. "It's payback for that traffic ticket."

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