An attempted robbery of a student occurred off-campus around 2 a.m. Friday, April 12. The student reported the incident to Security Services soon afterward, and Director of Security Services Todd Badham sent a security alert to the campus community later that morning.
The incident occurred near North 9th and Pine Street, as students walked back to campus from Engine House No. 9 Brewery. One student felt a tug on her purse and turned to find a man with a gun demanding the purse. This student and one other struggled with the man, who did not succeed in getting the purse and ran away.
The security alert sent out later Friday morning described the incident, provided information on the suspect and reiterated precautions for crime prevention. The alert also noted three other similar incidents that recently occurred in the 6th Avenue corridor.
Usually, the campus would be informed about incidents that occur close to campus.
“We inform the campus community when events are serious in nature, in close proximity to campus and recent,” Dean of Students Mike Segawa said.
However, the most recent incident was the first that the University community had heard about. Often, the Tacoma police will inform the University when serious incidents occur near campus, but that did not happen in this case.
The three previous incidents have been very similar in circumstance and suspect description to this last incident.
“What seems to be happening is that someone in the 6th Avenue corridor is waiting for bars to close at 2 a.m. and for individuals to target,” Badham said. “I can only speculate that the suspect assumes that people are more vulnerable at that time—maybe they’re impaired, maybe they have cash on them.”
Badham explained that these recurring incidents should make individuals more cautious. “One thing I would recommend is that if you’re going to a 6th Ave. establishment, leave thirty minutes before closing to avoid the wave of people leaving.” In effect, hopefully this would allow individuals to avoid aggressors looking to target potentially vulnerable individuals.
For Segawa, these incidents remind us of our location, and the accompanying precautions. “We live in a major urban area,” Segawa said. “You need to be aware of your surroundings, and when you’ve been drinking you lessen your ability to be aware of your surroundings.”
The incident also brings up safety precautions that students should take. “Generally, students should be concerned about being out at night, or avoid doing it, and if you’re going to be out, try to be in a larger group if possible,” Badham explained.
Badham commented on the ease with which individuals can forget their surroundings as well as safety precautions that should be customary. “Be prepared. We have a tendency to live in a bubble because we generally have a safe campus,” he remarked. “People can forget about their responsibility of taking care of themselves, but we live in a society where stuff does happen.”
Security Services aims to combat this tendency—while their primary aim is to provide a safe place for the campus community to live, work and study, Security Services also assumes an educational role.
“Ideally, students come to school here and get an education. I’d like to see our department as giving them an education as well; they need to take care of themselves and learn how to conduct themselves in order to stay safe,” Badham said.
Security Services aims to educate by imbuing crime prevention through reminders in security alerts and general security information. Additionally, most departments of the institution are involved in upholding the health and safety of the community.
While many facets of the University work to maintain a safe environment, the campus community has an obligation to contribute to these efforts.
“As a student, it is your job to contribute to crime prevention,” Badham said. Badham explains a cycle that ensues when crime prevention is not practiced, because then crime becomes successful and criminals will return. “As community members we can stop that cycle. We can make this an unattractive place for crime to occur, and criminals won’t come back.”
Safety precautions such as locking your door and your bike, not letting strangers into a residence hall behind you and walking with others at night should be practiced to maintain a safe campus setting. “When folks are doing those things consistently, that maximizes the safety of the community,” Segawa said.
While the recent security incidents in the 6th Avenue corridor bring up necessary precautions relevant to the circumstances of the recent occurrences, the security alert also reminds of standard practices important to ensure a safe campus.
To report an incident, request an escort, get assistance or emergency response on campus, call Security Services at (253)879-3311 or ext. 3311 on a campus phone. Escorts through Security Services are offered 24 hours a day and seven days a week.