I want to update you on numerous efforts to improve safety in the Fort Sanders neighborhood, which is home to more than 12,000 residents – many of them UT students and employees.
Last week, university faculty, staff, students, law enforcement officials and administrators met with community business leaders, elected officials, Knoxville Police Department officers, representatives of area hospitals and Fort Sanders Historic Neighborhood Association members. This special task force emphasized the need for safety and improvements to neighborhood environmental factors that contribute to crime.
UT and Knoxville police have increased their presence in the Fort Sanders area. Police units patrol there 24 hours a day, and both departments have added officers and patrol cars. The number of nighttime and weekend patrols has also increased, and plans are under way to further enhance coverage during the day.
UT Police have developed a special problems unit designed to focus additional manpower on areas of concern. This unit has dedicated much of its resources to Fort Sanders.
Communications are also very important. Participation in the UT ALERT text messaging system has increased – more than 15,500 students, faculty and staff are now enrolled. UT ALERT was activated after a recent criminal incident, for a weather-related delay and to expedite evacuation of the Humanities Building following a bomb threat. If you have not enrolled in this free service, I encourage you to do so at https://www.utk.edu/utalert/.
We’ve begun improving crime awareness through our "Taking PrecaUTions" campaign, with a special emphasis on activities in Fort Sanders. We’ll continue to build on those efforts.
Residents of the area can also contribute to their personal safety by remaining aware of their surroundings at all times, pledging to never walk alone at night and always staying in well-lit areas and on pedestrian paths. I encourage you to take advantage of resources provided by the campus such as the T:Link after hours and to always contact UTPD with any safety concern or to report a potential problem. A list of safety resources and additional information is available at http://safety.utk.edu/.
The task force is developing recommendations on
- Expanding the network of 100 campus emergency "blue" phones linked to the police
- Improving lighting throughout the neighborhood in thoroughfares used by students and visitors
- Cleaning up the area to remove potential problems and deter crime
- Organizing students, community members and others to volunteer in regular clean-up efforts to enhance pride and ownership of the neighborhood
- Evaluating the T bus services to assist the growing needs of the Fort Sanders neighborhood
We are committed to sharing information and working together to make sure we’re doing all we can to make a safer environment. By working together, we can create the best environment possible to study, learn, live and work together.