Tips, resources to stay safe on campus

Junior Alexa Riedmiller practices a self-defense technique with Bryan Rodriguez, a crime prevention specialist with the University of Miami Police Department, during a Self-Defense Awareness and Familiarization Exchange class in February. Photo: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami
By Jenny Hudak

Junior Alexa Riedmiller practices a self-defense technique with Bryan Rodriguez, a crime prevention specialist with the University of Miami Police Department, during a Self-Defense Awareness and Familiarization Exchange class in February. Photo: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami

Tips, resources to stay safe on campus

By Jenny Hudak
September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month, and the University of Miami Police Department is offering events, classes, and advice to keep you secure year-round.

Campuses across the country recognize September as National Campus Safety Awareness Month. At the University of Miami Coral Gables Campus, the University of Miami Police Department (UMPD) is ready to equip everyone with the skills and resources to keep themselves safe. 

“By providing all this information up front, we hope to deter crime by taking the opportunity away. We like to be out in the community presenting this information to get ahead of anything ever happening to anyone in the first place,” said Lt. Octavia Bridges. 

Throughout the month, UMPD will be hosting tabling events to engage with members of the community about important topics like fraud prevention, stalking, and theft. Starting with a kickoff event on Friday, students and faculty and staff members are welcome to meet with officers at the Westbrook Walkway, adjacent to the Shalala Student Center, to become more aware of the resources available to them through UMPD. 

“To have people feel comfortable with their police department means there’s more of a chance that someone would report an incident to us so that we can find what the problem is and fix it,” said Bryan Rodriguez, a crime prevention specialist for UMPD. 

Rodriguez will also be hosting Self-Defense Awareness and Familiarization Exchange (S.A.F.E.) classes—a two-hour course that teaches physical defense techniques, risk awareness, and personal safety tactics on various dates in September. 

And on Sept. 21, UMPD will host their annual Safety Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Rock Plaza. The event will include representatives from various local police units, as well as University departments, who will share information with the community about ways to stay safe on and off campus. 

Both Rodriguez and Bridges agree—campus safety isn’t a one-month effort. More importantly, most crimes can be prevented with proper education and awareness. 

“We really want to get ahead of it. These positions and events are about preventing [crime] by educating people on what are red flags in certain situations,” Rodriguez said. 

The following is a list of some of UMPD’s tips and resources to keep you safe:

  • Use well-lit, well-traveled routes, and try to walk with friends. Remember, there is safety in numbers. Stay together, and do not leave anyone behind. For 24/7 Safety Escorts on the Coral Gables Campus, call 305-284-6666.
  • Avoid distractions while walking—such as texting, talking on a cellphone at length, or reading—so you can be observant and better monitor your surroundings.
  • Students and faculty and staff members are encouraged to download Rave Guardian, a free mobile application that promotes safety on campus. The application allows users to contact emergency services and find resources.
  • A Self-Defense Awareness and Familiarization Exchange (S.A.F.E.) class is offered from 6-8 p.m. on various dates at the Lennar Foundation Medical Center. Learn more and register for the S.A.F.E.
  • Blue Light Phones located throughout the Coral Gables Campus can connect you directly with a police dispatcher. Learn more about Blue Light Phones and their locations.
  • Never leave valuables unattended while on campus—not even for a few minutes—and especially not in your car. Secure your vehicle and do not leave items in plain sight. More than half of all crimes are theft of unattended items.
  • Never prop doors open. Utilize your ’Cane Card to swipe into secured buildings.
  • Protect your bike. UMPD offers bike registration online. Registrants can pick up a free lock for their cycle from the police station, located in the Flipse Building.
  • If an online sale sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Be wary of phishing scams, and never send money to unknown recipients. If you purchase something online and would like a safe location to exchange payment for goods, the police station is available 24/7. It has video surveillance and is well-populated.
  • When using ride share apps, always be sure to check the license plate number before entering the vehicle. Share your location with friends and family so others know your whereabouts.
  • If you see something, say something. Report any suspicious activity on campus by calling 305-284-6666.

To learn more about how to stay safe on campus, check out the following list of UMPD events taking place during September:

  • 2: National Campus Safety Awareness Month Kickoff from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Westbrook Walkway.
  • 6: Understanding Stalking from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Westbrook Walkway.
  • 7: Coffee with a Cop from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Hurricane Food Court.
  • 7: S.A.F.E. Class from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Lennar Medical Center. Register.
  • 20: S.A.F.E. Class from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Lennar Medical Center. Register.
  • 28: S.A.F.E. Class from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Lennar Medical Center. Register.
  • 21: UMPD Safety Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Rock Plaza.