Each year, students on the University of Mississippi campus fall victim to a number of different crimes, including sexual assault, larceny, harassment and cyber-bullying. The University Police Department has been making efforts to keep its students safe, specifically during football weekends when large numbers of visitors are on campus.
“At UPD, our workload seems to be driven by the population of the community rather than being seasonal, in the traditional sense,” said Daniel Sanford, who became UPD’s Chief of Police on Aug. 9.
Sanford said UPD is busiest on football game days — when there’s thousands of extra visitors on campus — and has its slowest days in the summer when the student population is low.
According to the UPD crime log from the past seven days, there have been multiple incidents reported, including four reports of harassment, five reports of larceny and five accounts of assault, with two being sexual.
Though most people are aware of the dangers of physical crimes, not all crimes fall into this category. UPD often receives reports of offenses such as cybercrime. Students are advised to never open attachments or files from email addresses that they do not recognize.
“Be sure to look at the addresses closely to be sure the sender is not pretending to be someone you know,” Sanford said. “The sender may appear to be a representative of the university, but the actual email may be from gmail, hotmail or another provider that is not associated with the Ole Miss email system. This is often a sign of a phishing attempt, where the sender is attempting to steal your information.”
One of the most common incidents of cyber crime is when victims receive emails with “job offers,” asking them to do menial tasks in exchange for payment by check.
“The sender often requests that the victim send part of the money back via money order or gift card to cover some sort of fee, and the victim is told to keep the rest of the money. The check is inevitably fake, so the victim is then out the money and the bank fees, while the offender is in the clear with the money or gift card that the victim sends to them,” Sanford said.
Sanford explained that UPD does its best to solve those types of crimes, but that it can be difficult because the offender is often in another country. In spite of this, UPD feels that it is important that students contact law enforcement in these instances because the event could be part of a larger picture that law enforcement may be trying to piece together.
“Together these reports help us to see the scope of the offender’s actions and may allow us to leverage additional help, including federal resources, when trying to identify and apprehend the offender,” Sanford said.
As far as Thanksgiving break and the holidays go, Sanford encourages students to secure all of their belongings before departing for vacation.
“Lock the doors of your apartment, lock the doors on your car and keep your valuable items out of sight. Most criminal acts are crimes of opportunity, so the harder you make it for an offender to carry out the act, the less likely you are to be victimized,” said Sanford.
If anyone has questions or needs advice, they can speak with an officer at any time by calling (662) 915-7234.
The Everbridge app, which is available to the students, faculty and staff of the University of Mississippi, is also a resource that can provide you with additional tools to enhance your personal safety.
Additional safety measures include crime prevention presentations, Rebel Patrol Safe Walks and emergency phone towers. Students and faculty may visit upd.olemiss.edu for additional information or by visiting UPD in person at Kinard Hall — Wing C, Floors 2 and 3 and Wing D, Floor 3.