DPS to meet with UT officials this week about campus security

Police section off the area on April 6, 2016, the day after the body was found.
Police section off the area on April 6, 2016, the day after the body was found. (KXAN Photo/Ed Zavala)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin is preparing for a security review from the Texas Department of Public Safety after the death of a UT student.

“It personally hurts,” said Curtis Clay, associate director of school safety education at Texas School Safety Center. “Being a parent of four recently-graduated college students myself. You know it could have been one of my children.”

The Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University tracks state-mandated security audits from schools serving students from kindergarten through junior college. Although UT does not have to follow the same guidelines, it does have to follow federal law. The national rules require UT to publish a security report, which it has done. It outlines crime statistics and resources for students.

A spokesperson tells KXAN that although the campus has not done a campus-wide crime prevention audit, it does do smaller versions for all new buildings and by request. For example, an audit might look at a particular dorm or space, if needed.

A university spokesperson says the initial meeting with DPS about the upcoming security review is scheduled for sometime this week.

“At the request of University of Texas (UT) officials, the Texas Department of Public Safety will conduct a safety and security assessment of the UT-Austin campus, including elements such as security video coverage, outdoor lighting, building security, etc. Once the assessment is complete, those findings will be presented to the UT leadership. For security purposes, we will not be releasing any additional information about this assessment,” Tom Vinger, a DPS spokesperson, wrote to KXAN News.

The current audits required by junior colleges could give some clues as to what to expect in the UT review.

“I would say [the DPS analysis] would be somewhat similar to the junior college tool. But it may be more extensive also,” said Clay.

Documents from the Texas School Safety Center recommend schools look at if surveillance cameras are used in outdoor passageways and if they’re live monitored in areas where the school is trying to keep students safe. The junior college assessment tool also takes things like landscaping into account to make sure people keep a clear line of sight of what’s ahead.

“If you’re able to realize and know that we need more lighting here or we need more personnel here — that’s going to make all the difference in the world,” said Clay.

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