U. Penn Marks $5 Million to Increase Campus Security

PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania will spend an extra $5 million to immediately increase security around the campus, which has seen two shootings nearby in the past month.

The money will be used to increase the number of campus police officers by 20 percent and the number of security guards by 50 percent, and to install up to $3 million in lighting, security cameras and emergency phones, according to a statement from Penn officials.

The announcement came a week after a Penn sophomore was hit in the leg by a stray bullet and about a month after a man - not a student - was shot and killed in a diner just off-campus.

"This year has definitely been a challenge," Maureen Rush, vice president for public safety, told the student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian. "We have to sort of shock the environment by doing a lot and by doing it now."

The school has also seen a rash of robberies and assaults in recent weeks. The number of calls to the campus escort service last month more than tripled over the same period last year.

The $5 million in security money is in addition to $2 million in supplemental funds already authorized this fiscal year. The school's Division of Public Safety budget now stands at $28 million.

"Penn's campus is one of the most vibrant urban campuses in America," said the statement from the university officials, including President Amy Gutmann. "Working with our partners in the city and in our neighborhood, we will do everything we can to enhance the safety and security of our community."

Since the 1996 off-campus murder of Penn researcher Vladimir Sled, the school's anti-crime measures have helped reduce the number of crimes reported to campus police by about 50 percent.

The Ivy League school, which has about 23,000 full- and part-time students, has a 269-acre campus in West Philadelphia. Penn has received much praise for redeveloping portions of the area, although critics say the gentrification has made the neighborhood too expensive for longtime residents.


(c) 2005 Associated Press