UChicago, Chicago Police Department leaders reaffirm commitment to campus safety

Discussion outlines steps to enhance public safety, addresses questions from community

Leaders from the University of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department reaffirmed their commitment to public safety during a Nov. 17 discussion, in which they outlined new steps to enhance campus safety and answered questions from the community.

The event was held the week after the murder of UChicago graduate Shaoxiong “Dennis” Zheng, who was killed Nov. 9 during a robbery near campus.

President Paul Alivisatos began the event by acknowledging a moment of collective mourning on campus for Zheng, and thanked Chicago officials for their continued partnership and shared commitment in addressing public safety.

“The problems before us are critical,” Alivisatos said. “I would like to state unequivocally that safety is my top priority. We are diligently working to make it safer on and around our campus.”

Other speakers included Eric Heath, associate vice president for safety and security at UChicago, who outlined the steps that the University of Chicago Police Department has taken in response to the tragedy; and Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown, who discussed the events that led to the arrest of the suspect for Zheng’s murder.

In the past week, Heath said that UCPD and campus and community safety ambassadors “have worked tirelessly to put immediate additional measures in place to enhance the safety of our community.”

During the hourlong event, which included a question-and-answer session, Alivisatos, Heath and Brown highlighted new strategies, including:

  • Increased foot and vehicular police patrols on and near campus, including joint patrols between UCPD and CPD focused on robbery reduction
  • A new 24-hour strategic operations center that will allow UCPD to make real-time, proactive adjustments to police and security deployments while also improving emergency communications
  • Increased use of security cameras and license plate readers in the vicinity of campus
  • Additional transportation options for the University community, including the expansion of the free Lyft ride program for students
  • A new victims services unit to provide advocacy and support for serious crimes reported to UCPD
  • Expanded coordination between the University and city police departments, including walking beats that will increase the visibility of officers near campus
  • The permanent assignment of more officers to the CPD district that includes the Hyde Park area

Brown emphasized his department’s commitment to greater collaboration with the University, including more regular sharing of information, as well as joint patrols.

Speaking to the University community, Brown said: “We share your grief, and we share your pain. But we are committed to protecting you.”