What would you do if you had a perfect day? A day when absolutely nothing goes wrong? Nobody gets hurt, nobody steals anything or goes where they do not belong, and Superman takes the day off. How would you celebrate?
On Tuesday, the University of Texas Police Department had a crime-free day. They celebrated with a tweet:
Congratulations everyone, it has been a while, but we all experienced a Crime Free Day yesterday at the University of Texas. Good Job everyone.
Police officer Darrell Halstead says perfect days are rare. It’s been more than a year since the last one. And although the campus is much quieter during the summer, the Forty Acres is still buzzing with conference-goers, summer campers, and freshly minted Longhorns here for orientation.
Theft, Halstead reports, is the most common crime. He get reports “almost on a daily basis” of missing bike, wallets, credit cards, and property left unattended. All reports are shared through the Campus Watch newsletter.
Campus Watch is a free email service that covers all crimes on campus, from college shenanigans at the Turtle Pond to more serious reports of theft and vandalism around the University.
The newsletter’s offbeat tone has recently earned local and national headlines. But Halstead admits he had a steep learning curve when he started working on the newsletter. He laughs and says, “That was the first time that I found out that spam was more than just a meat byproduct.”
Halstead is quick to point out that he isn’t trying to make light of serious crimes. But he adds, “If it was a dull crime stat report, not many people would read it. What we found out is that if we throw a little humor into it, it makes people grin.”
The numbers back him up. When Campus Watch launched in 1999 as Campus Crime Line, it had 50 subscribers. After UTPD added humor and began promoting the newsletter at freshman orientation, subscriptions ballooned to well over 12,000.
That network of people benefits the police department by generating tips on offenders and keeping entire Longhorn families in the loop. Halstead says that at orientation, nervous parents come at him with questions that all boil down to “How safe is this campus”?
Campus Watch is that safety blanket for them. Many parents stay subscribed until their child’s graduation and then write long emails detailing how much they have appreciated the service but that they have to move on. Halstead says, “It’s almost like a divorce.”
Subscribe yourself to Campus Watch here.
Photo courtesy voteprime.
Cary Michael Cox:
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