Women’s Safety Follow-up

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Students walking around DePauw's campus. Photo courtesy of Chi Doan.

In light of our March 11 article inquiring about women’s safety on campus, The DePauw Faculty Advisor Renee Thomas Woods, Editor-in-Chief Layla Brown-Clark, and daily writer Emma Mann met with Chief Charlene Shrewsbury at the DePauw Police Department to provide comments and talk about safety and resources available to students. 

Chief Shrewsbury, who was unable to comment at the time the previous article was published, provided a detailed response to the incident of first-years Audrey Young and Aubrey Kress’ experience with two men following them on campus.

She described the step-by-step response to the incident. First, information was gathered from the caller (where, what happened, description of the person, etc.). Shrewsbury continued by describing the active role the department took by having officers go out and look for the perpetrator. This is a multifaceted response:

“While the officers are doing that, what the dispatcher will sometimes do is get on our video cameras to see if they can locate the people in that moment,” Shrewsbury said. If the officer is unable to locate the individual, they will be a part of the video camera search in tracking specific instances (where the caller was, where the caller said the perpetrator was, etc.) 

Shrewsbury said that an officer did type up a report when the girls called the incident in and made the department aware. However, she stated that if the subjects cannot be located, there is really not much else that can be done. 

Shrewsbury stressed repeatedly how she wants her department to be open and accessible to all students and encouraged students to call if they feel unsafe, are alone and need an officer to take them back to their residence, etc. Students can walk into the police department (101 E Seminary ST, Lower Level), or call 765-658-5555 for assistance.

She wants students to know that if they don’t feel comfortable calling the DePauw Police for any particular reason, they can call the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department at (765) 653-3211 or the Greencastle Police Department at (765) 653-3155

“I need to talk to them [the two departments] about how we can work together. I've known those officers for a really long time so we have a good working relationship,” Shrewsbury said. “Because we have our own police here [at DePauw], sometimes they won't take calls from students because they don't want to cross boundaries because we have respect for each other departments, but if a student doesn't feel comfortable, all they have to do is say ‘Hey I'm uncomfortable calling DePauw police,’ and we could try to work something out in moment.”

When asked about what she would tell women who have had similar experiences or have general feelings of unease on campus, she said that they should be aware of their surroundings and stressed the importance of a key resource on campus: Safe Ride. Safe Ride is a program that provides transportation for students back to their residence or destination after dark. 

Chief Shrewsbury said, “It is available until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. the latter part of the week…You can always call our office and an officer will come and walk you from Point A to Point B or they'll load you up in our car and take you where you need to be.” 

She wants to ensure the safety of students is a priority and is working to maintain and improve that. 

Shrewsbury explained that the DePauw Police Department is trained to deal with mental health crises as well and wants to make students aware of that. Her department goes through mental health training every year as well as some additional training because of its proximity to a college campus.

For emergent mental health crises, Shrewsbury added, “Sometimes as an officer, we will go on the scene at the moment and ask those questions that need to be asked so we can determine whether or not we need to call someone for additional assistance.”

Shrewsbury reiterated that the department is there to help and will do so in whatever ways that it can. She wants DePauw Police to continue to be available, approachable, and accessible to all students.