University of Tennessee part of national campus safety campaign

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- If you or your children go to college, crime on campus is something you probably think about often.

You may not know there's a non-profit group dedicated to making colleges safer.

That group chose the University of Tennessee to help kickoff national campus safety awareness month.

Whether it's violent crime, theft, or substance abuse, even relatively safe colleges have plenty of crime to fight.

One person who's seen the worst of college crime says there's been much progress over the years, but there's more work to be done.

Thomas Baer lost his son, Tommy, in one of the worst crimes ever at the University of Tennessee.

Baer says, "It was the day the students returned to school, August 21, 1988 and he was stabbed in the heart by an intruder at his fraternity house that evening."

Within a few weeks, Baer decided to become a part of Security on Campus Incorporated. Now that group has chosen U.T. to bring together people who share Baer's passion for making colleges safer. The include Congressman Jimmy Duncan and local and campus police. All are here to focus attention on National Campus Safety Awareness Month.

S. Daniel Carter is vice president of SecurityOnCampus.org. He says, "Everybody wants our campuses to be safe. But the key to actually achieving that is working together."

Baer says, "That makes me feel really good because the cooperative effort wasn't there 20 years ago and we had to push to force some of it happen."

Still, U.T. students say there will always be crime on this campus.

UT student Lindzy Conely from White House, Tenn says, "There's been a lot of incidents of people being robbed, just walking around on campus, their wallet and things like that being taken from them."

Conely admits she worries about crime. She says she's careful not to make the long walk from her car to her dorm alone. But as the recent deadly shootings at Knox Central High School and the Unitarian Universalist Church demonstrate, it is difficult to protect even much smaller groups of people in a single building. We have not seen deadly shootings at U.T., but campus police say they don't take that for granted.

Keith Lambert with UT Police says, "I think we'd be remis again if we didn't take the time to prepare and have the plans in place, to have the training in place, to be able to respond if something like that were to happen."

Wednesday is UT Safety Day, and several events are planned on campus.

If you'd like to learn more about the non-profit group security on campus, visit SecurityOnCampus.org.


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