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Annual Spring Safety Message from Chief Mitchell

Annual Spring Safety Message from Chief Mitchell

Dear Campus Community,

One of the things I look forward to with the start of the spring semester is sharing with you updates from the department and reminders on how to Be a Safe Terp. Since I wrote to you last spring, much has happened. With that being said, I share with you information about new initiatives, and updates on ongoing initiatives, safety resources, and upcoming community events. We know that the first few weeks of classes can be overwhelming, but know this, we are here for you.

For many of us, we are still grappling with a video depicting a horrific killing of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers. I condemn their criminal misconduct in the strongest possible words. As an officer of the law for more than 50 years, it sickens me too, and I grieve alongside our community.

I am grateful to Nyumburu, MICA and the Black Faculty Staff Association for holding an event yesterday where we could grieve together.

Much work is to be done across the country, but here in College Park, our commitment to working with all of you to be a department of excellence has never been stronger. We continue to work with our campus partners in Enhancing Safety and Community Policing at the University of Maryland. You can see the progress on the online dashboard.

As we returned to a normal on campus resident population back in the fall, which was a first since the start of the pandemic in 2020, we anticipated seeing an increase in the number of calls for service and incidents. As expected, we did see an increase. In 2022, we responded to 103,453 calls for service compared to 98,061 in 2021. As we finalized the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, Part-I crime statistics for 2022, I share with you that we had 228  Part-I crime reports which yielded a 33.33% increase in overall crime compared to 2021 (171 Part-I crime reports). The majority of this increase is due to property crimes such as theft, burglary, and motor vehicle theft.

New and Ongoing Initiatives

Transparency and communication are crucial in building and maintaining trust. One of the ways we exhibit this is by making our crime stats available on our website. For decades, our department has reported our crime stats to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, Summary Reporting System (SRS) - an aggregate monthly totals.  In 2021, the FBI retired the SRS and transitioned to a National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) - a new national data collection standard. After months of planning and coordination between our Records and IT unit, we have made the switch to NIBRS reporting. This switch makes sure we are meeting federal data standards, improving operations, and better informing the public about the nature of crime in our community. We will continue to publish our crime stats monthly on our website. More information about the switch to NIBRS can be viewed here.

As the first police department in the State of Maryland to partner with Lights On! this past February, we are proud to be part of a community-driven program that offers vouchers for free, up to $250 worth of repairs, instead of traffic tickets. Since joining Lights On!, we have issued over 100 vouchers to motorists with light(s) out on their vehicle.

Working with our partners in the Division of Student Affairs, we are coming up with innovative solutions to address the needs of the community as it relates to mental health. As I shared last year, we have a Crisis Intervention Team. We now have 21 officers and 911 call takers trained specifically in the field of Crisis Intervention and are using de-escalation techniques that improve the safety for our community and the officers involved. We are continuing to provide this additional training to all of our officers and 911 call takers.

Another resource that is available not to just public safety but all members of our community is the The BETA (Behavior Evaluation and Threat Assessment) Team. The BETA Team, led by the Division of Student Affairs, has expertise from various functional areas across campus. They evaluate reports about University of Maryland community members who behave in a concerning manner. Early intervention is important. See something, say something, do something. We invite you to review their resources on how to assist those in distress. The University also offers Mental Health and First Aid Training. This 8-hour training gives you the skills you need to reach out and provide initial support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care.


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