Enrolling as a student in 1971, Gary Anna has been connected to Bradley’s campus ever since his very first day on campus.
“In the last 40 years everything has changed everywhere in regards to safety,” he said. “Growing up in the ’70s no one at home or at school worried about keeping their doors locked. Even in the Peoria area it was a different time.”
He said in 1985-86, America was faced with economic challenges, which were evident in the Peoria neighborhoods. On Main Street there became many vacant properties, which led to changes within the neighborhood and a shift in locations of student housing.
Anna explains the recent increase of crime on campus is a result of shifts within the community. He said that three years ago there was a similar trend of muggings like the ones that occurred earlier this semester.
“Any event of any kind is serious,” he said. “None of these occasions this year or 40 years ago can be minimized. These things sometimes go in cycles and that’s what makes it more intense as far as perceptions are concerned.”
Anna said up until 9/11, security and safety on campus weren’t large concerns. But since then the Bradley University Police Department (BUPD) has a more visible presence on campus and has enhanced its use of technology.
“They’re a unit that has a standard in expectations like our academics do,” he said. “They go through training and performance checks. [The department] is more strategic than what it was 10-12 years ago.”
Political science professor Craig Curtis said even though there has been an increase in crime this semester, he is confident in the BUPD.
“I have a lot of support of [BUPD] Chief Joschko,” he said. “He strikes me as hard-working and he was my first choice after the open forums [hosted for police chief candidates]. He is very serious about safety.”
In addition to Joschko’s commitment to safety, Curtis said he has noticed many changes take place on campus since he came to Bradley in 1991.
“The campus is better lit and police patrol a lot more, I have confidence in the Bradley police,” he said. “They have upgraded security for getting into the dorms and they have made the library and the Markin Center swipe access.”
Curtis, who lived on the 800 block of Cooper for more than 10 years, said the reason why the Bradley campus and surrounding areas have experienced trends of crime is simply because we are a university.
“We are a target,” he said. “Criminals understand that students do things that make them a mark such as walking home intoxicated on Main St. at 3 a.m. Predators know that students have cash, cell phones and are not always aware of the things around them. It’s a great opportunity for criminals.”
Although being a student or a professor makes many on campus easy targets, Curtis said he believes students aren’t at high risk.
“I have a night class that goes until nine,” he said. “I ask students to walk home in groups and I am happy to give them a ride but I feel that they aren’t terribly at risk.”
Director of Alcohol programming Lyndsey Hawkins spends most Monday nights on campus late for student group meetings. She said after the armed robberies earlier this semester students she worked with were more nervous about their safety, but she feels generally safe on campus.
“I feel safe walking to my car because of the safety precautions I take,” she said. “I always walk out to the parking lot with a group. I have a whistle on my keys in case I need to draw attention to a situation. I make sure my husband knows when I leave my office so he can check up if I take too long getting home… Thankfully [the parking garage] has good lighting and most of the time there are other people coming in and out of the building who could serve as active bystanders in an emergency situation.”